Thursday, 15 October 2015

NDI, FODEP Partner To Monitor Voter Registration Exercise

A registration officer issuing out a voters' card

By Paul Shalala

The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) and the United States-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) have partnered on a US$50, 000 project to monitor the on-going mobile issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs) and voters cards.

The two institution announced the development in Lusaka a day ago and this collaboration is not the first of its kind in the promotion of good governance in Zambia.

According to the draft strategy of the project dubbed "Go Out to Register," the campaign seeks to contribute to the increase of voter registration in 28 selected districts from nine of Zambia's 10 provinces.

Southern is the only province which will not be covered in the project.

The project will also try to promote the participation of key stakeholders to help increase turn out of eligible voters.

"Voter registration is vital to the public’s interest in establishing a government based on the people’s will and also vital to those who seek to gain public office as it is a key element for screening ineligible people out of the voting process and for identifying and credentialing eligible individuals so that they may have the opportunity to vote," said MacDonald Chipenzi, FODEP Executive Director during a press briefing.

He added: "it delights me to launch this very important projects aimed at contributing to a deepening democratization in Zambia through increased popular participation of citizens in the electoral process by contributing to the attainment of the registration of 1.7 million voters by 7th July 2016."
MacDonald Chipenzi

This project will be implemented in Lusaka, Rufunsa, Luangwa, Chiawa, Chinsali, Nakonde, Shiwangandu,  Senanga, Sesheke, Kazungula, Kasama, Mpulungu, Mbala, Luwingu, Kafulafuta, Ndola, Kitwe, Chililabombwe, Mufulira, Kapiri Mposhi Chisamba, Chibombo, Mansa, Mwense, Lubwe and Chembe districts.

And FODEP Civic Education Chairperson Clement Zulu has expressed concern that the third and fourth phases of the voter registration exercise will be held in the rain season which can affect turn out. 

"FODEP is cognisant of the fact that much of the 1.7million targeted new voters account for youths between the age of 17 and 35 years. To this end, FODEP will engage with schools and establish school chapters at which schools would compete with each other in a manner that sends messages to encourage young people to register. FODEP will also appreciate theatre and creative art to get its message across. A total of 480 volunteers will be empowered with voter education facilitation skills in 29 districts of the 7 provinces." said Mr Zulu.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) launched the voter registration exercise on 14th September, 2015 targeting to register 1.7 million new voters across the country by March, 2016.

The exercise is being done in four phases which will run as follows:

A voter displaying his voters' card in Luanshya
  •  First phase started on 14th September 2015 and runs for 14 days until 27th September, 2015.
  • Second Phase started on 29th September, 2015 and ended on 11th October, 2015. 
  • Third phase from 11 October 2015 to 25 October 2015
  • Fourth phase from 26 October to 11 November 2015
 In the first phase of the exercise, the ECZ announced that 301, 103 new voters were registered while thousands more had their lost or damaged voters' cards replaced.

The exercise has however been hampered in some provinces were thousands of potential first time voters can not register as they do not have NRCs.

The mobile issuance of NRCs is also been implemented in phases in the provinces. 

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