Friday, 2 October 2015

Hundreds Of Kitwe Youths May Be Defranchised In 2016 Elections

By Paul Shalala
ECZ Chairperson Esau Chulu being registered as a voter

Hundreds of young people in Kitwe are being turned away by voter registration officers when they show up at registration centers to register as voters.

The youths, who think that the officers are issuing both National Registration Cards (NRCs) and voters cards, may be defranchised next year during the general elections.

The on-going voter registration exercise which started on September 14 and closes on November 11 this year, is capturing new voters and replacing damaged or lost voters cards.
In some areas, this exercise is going hand in hand with the mobile issuance of National Registration Cards.
But on the Copperbelt, the mobile issuance of NRCs is yet to start and hundreds of potential young voters are being turned away at registration centers for not having NRCs.

Government has grouped provinces to receive mobile NRC teams in phases.
In Buchi ward, potential first time voters have been left out.

"Here in Buchi we have a challenge. Young people are eager to vote but they have no NRCs. They have been coming to Buchi Hall thinking they are also giving NRCs but they are being turned away," said Buchi Ward Councillor Bibian Nyeleti who was found at the registration center.

In neighbouring Lubuto ward, the situation is the same.

"There has not been much publicity about voters' cards here. But youths are coming in their hundreds and they are being turned away because they have no NRCs. We are appealing to government to bring the mobile insuance of NRCs here," said Mwila Mutale, Lubuto Ward councillor in an interview.

Godfridah Chulu
And Kitwe Deputy Mayor Godfridah Chulu, who recently toured registration centers in the city, has joined the call for the immediate issuance of mobile NRCs on the Copperbelt.

"The turn out across Kitwe is good but our worry is the young people who have no NRCs. They are eager to vote but they can not register. We appeal to the government to quickly move in and help the youths of Kitwe," said Mrs Chulu, who is also Lubwa Ward Councillor.

On Saturday, Chief Government Spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said he would liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Electoral Commission of Zambia to find a solution to the delayed issuance of NRCs in some provinces.

The first phase of the voter registration exercise came to an end on Sunday and the following day,  registration officers moved to their next centers.
At each registration center, officers are spending 14 days in the hope of capturing 1. 6 million new voters to bring the total of registered voters in the voters’ register to 6.8 million people.

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