Showing posts with label Electoral Commission of Zambia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Electoral Commission of Zambia. Show all posts

Friday, 19 August 2016

Zambia’s Referendum Fails As Less Than 50% Of Voters Show Up

By Paul Shalala
A voter

Zambia has failed to pass several progressive human rights amendments to its constitution following the failure by voters to reach the 50% threshold needed to approve the amendments in a referendum.

On Thursday last week, Zambia went to the polls in a general election which was also tied to a referendum on the bill of rights which had progressive laws.

Due to the attention given to the presidential election, the counting and announcing of referendum votes was halted and postponed to today to allow for the presidential results to be announced first.

According to Zambia’s Referendum Act, the country needs at least 50% of its citizens above 18 years to vote in a referendum.

Further, half of those who show up at the polling stations must vote YES for the referendum to succeed.

However, today, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced that last week’s referendum failed to reach the threshold.

ECZ Chairperson Esau Chulu disclosed that only 44.4% of the eligible voters turn out and the referendum failed by 5.6%.

According to the Central Statistical Office, Zambia has an estimated total of 7,528,091 people above the age of 18 and this means that for the referendum to go through, 3,764,046 should have voted.

However, according to Justice Chulu, only 3,345,047 showed up and of those, only 1,852,549 voted YES for the referendum.

The ECZ and some civil society organisations ran sensitisation campaigns urging people to come out and vote in the referendum.

The ruling Patriotic Front campaigned for a YES vote while the opposition UPND and other parties campaigned for a NO vote.

Despite the general election recording a 56.4% turn out, the referendum recorded a 44.4%.

After voting for President, Member of Parliament, Mayor and Councillor, some voters did not proceed to the referendum booth to also vote in the referendum despite both processes being held in the same polling stations.
The Referendum Question On the ballot Paper

Some of the progressive laws which were provided for in the bill of rights were a provision of 19 years as the marriage age, banning of abortion, providing access to information, freedom of the media, social, economic, cultural and political rights and fair trial.

Since the announcement of the referendum results, some Copperbelt-based civil society organisations have told this blogger of their disappointment.

“We are disappointed that the referendum has failed. We had hope that if the bill of rights was passed, we were going to be granted access to information which we have been championing for years. We also hoped that the public media would be given freedom. But this now means we get back to our drawing boards and start pushing parliament to enact the access to information bill,” said Andrew Sakala, President of the Press Association of Zambia.

Since 2002, the Zambian media has been involved ina back and forth game with governments for the access to information law to be taken back to parliament for enactment.

Not much progress has been made in realising this dream as successful governments have been failing to take back the bill to the floor of the house since its withdrawal from the standing orders 14 years ago.

For those involved in governance issues, the failure of the referendum means a major setback to their countrywide advocacy activities in the past three months.

“We are very disappointed by this development. We blame opposition parties who politicised this process. They campaigned against the referendum and now the people of Zambia have been denied their social, economic and cultural rights. This should be a lesson to Zambians and they should know that some parties don’t mean well,” said Gerard Mutelo, President of the Kitwe-based Democratic Governance and Human Rights Advocates.  

For some governance activists, the failure by Zambian voters to pass the bill of rights has hurt them hard.

“We are disappointed and annoyed. We spent a lot of money in sensitising the masses. What have the opposition parties gained in this…… People are not celebrating this development…. What have they achieved?” said an angry looking Poster Jumbe, the Copperbelt Province Coordinator of the Anti-Voter Apathy Project, a youth-led organisation which champions the involvement of young people in public affairs.
Some of the advocacy material for referendum

Among other provisions, the bill of rights called suggested 19 years to be made the marriage age in light of the conflict between customary and statutory laws which recognise marriage at different ages.

“It is very disappointing that the bill of rights has not been passed. We hoped that if it passed, it would have raised the marriage age to 19 and helped stop early marriages which are rampant in Zambia,” said Sharon Chisanga, the Copperbelt Province Coordinator for the Young Women Christian Association.

Ms Chisanga coordinates several programs aimed at discouraging early marriages which are common on the Copperbelt Province which has the second highest rate among Zambia’s 10 provinces.

If passed, the bill of rights would have also outlawed the detention of pregnant women.

Currently, pregnant women can be jailed and several women are incarcerated and raise their children in prison.

The bill had also provided for quick trials to avoid the common practice of suspects spending months and possibly years before their cases are disposed off by the courts of law.

With Zambia's conservative society, the country added a clause which defined marriage as union between two people of opposite sex.

This clause was clearly stated to avoid any chances of same sex marriages in a country which is constitutionally recognised as a christian nation even though it also respects other faiths.

Before Thursday’s referendum, the last time Zambia had such a vote was in 1969. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Campaigns End In Zambia Ahead Of Tomorrow's General Elections

The Nine Presidential candidates -Picture by Mwebantu
By Paul Shalala

Campaigns have come to an end in Zambia and voters are tomorrow expected to vote for their President, Members of Parliament, Mayors, Council Chairmen and Councillors.

Also on the ballot is the referendum which seeks to approve or disapprove the amendment to the Bill of Rights.

Tomorrow, a total of 6, 698, 372 voters are expected to vote at thousands of polling stations across the country's 10 provinces.

Voting commences at polling stations starting in the morning at 06:00hrs and close at 18:00hrs in the evening after which counting commences.

About a dozen local and foreign election missions and organisations have deployed thousands of their monitors across the country.

Since the campaign period opened on May 16 this year, various political parties and candidates have traversed the country to canvass for votes.

Eight candidates are challenging President Edgar Lungu who is seeking a full five year term of his own after serving 19 months of the remainder of his predecessor Michael Sata who died in October 2014.

According to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, 651 candidates are battling for the 156 seats in Parliament, 331 candidates are contesting as Mayors and Council Chairpersons while those who are aspiring as Councillors countrywide are 4566.

On the eve of the elections, various stakeholders have issued statements to call for peace during the elections.

Others have reflected on the past three months that have seen a hive of activities across the country.

The Southern African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), a governance civil society organization, has called for a peaceful poll.

“The high levels of intolerance and political violence demonstrated during the campaign period which ends today indicates a high level of disregard for the citizenry and the ideals of democracy. Zambians now have an opportunity to peacefully work in solidarity and show perpetrators of political violence and intolerance that they will not to be intimidated to exercise their right to vote. We are therefore urging the citizens of this country to go and peacefully cast their votes in large numbers tomorrow 11th August, 2016,” said SACCORD Executive Director Boniface Cheembe in his election eve statement.

The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), another governance organization, has called on the ECZ to handle the elections in a transparent manner.

“We further wish to appeal to the ECZ to ensure timeliness and utmost transparency in the opening of polling stations and handling of voting materials to avoid acts of violence. This is an extremely important election being watched by the international community and it is imperative that electoral officials are professional in their work to inspire public confidence in the electoral process and ensure acceptance of the results,” says FODEP Executive Director Chimfwembe Mwenge in a statement issued today.

For the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), their concern is the use of youths as tools of violence during elections.

In their pre-election statement released today, the Bishops have challenged youths to be architects of a better Zambia.

“..........we hereby challenge the youths to be architects of a better Zambia by being agents of peace and reconciliation. We therefore appeal to you to “refuse to be used as mere tools of violence by unscrupulous politicians. In conclusion we again extend our earnest appeal to all Zambians to realise that voting is one of their fundamental rights and duties. It is also a Christian duty. We thus pray that all citizens enter the August 11 general elections with a spirit of honesty, avoiding bribes and cheating. We also pray that all voters, political party leaders and their cadres may have at heart, the needed passion and commitment to build for peace and avoid all forms of violence,” reads parts of the statement issued by ZCCB President Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu.

ECZ Chairperson Esau Chulu has today announced that the commission is expected to announce the final results within 48 hours of the close of polling tomorrow. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Former Mauritius President To Lead EISA Monitors To Zambia

Former Mauritius President Cassam Uteem
By Paul Shalala in Johannesburg, South Africa

Former Mauritius President Cassam Uteem is again leading a team of election observers from the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) to Zambia for next week's general elections and referendum.

Mr Uteem, who led the island nation of Mauritius from 1992 to 2002, also led the EISA election observers to Zambia's January 2015 elections which ushered into office President Edgar Lungu following the death of his predecessor Michael Sata in October 2014.

In a statement, EISA Deputy Chief of Mission Denis Kadima says the team is in Zambia to conduct an independent assessment of the electoral process and contribute to its peaceful and transparent conduct through their findings and recommendations.

“The Mission will base its assessment on the standards and obligations stipulated in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation; and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, ” read part of the statement.

The 13 man team will be deployed in Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and Mongu.

The team includes 10 short term observers from election management bodies and civil society organisations from across the continent.

EISA is not new to Zambia.

It has monitored elections since 2000.

According to the statement, in 2000 EISA supported the Electoral Commission of Zambia to establish its conflict management panels and develop civic and voter education materials.

It also deployed observer missions to the 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015 elections.

EISA joins other international organisations like the African Union, SADC, the Commonwealth and the European Union who have already deployed their observers on the ground.

On Thursday next week, Zambia goes to the polls to elect a President, 156 Members of Parliament, Mayors, Council Chairmen and Councillors.

Voters will also be voting in a referendum to either adopt or reject amendments to the Bill of Rights.

According to the revised voters register, Zambia has six million voters.

Nine Presidential candidates are in the race including the incumbent Edgar Lungu.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Outrage As Zambia Hikes Presidential Nomination Fees By 750%

Justice Esau Chulu

By Paul Shalala 

Zambia has increased the nomination fee for the August 11 presidential election by 750% triggering complaints from opposition parties, aspiring candidates and the civil society.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced on Thursday that it had increased all nomination fees for this year’s elections during a stakeholders meeting in Lusaka.

ECZ Chairperson Justice Esau Chulu said the increase of the presidential nomination fee from K10,000 (US$1,000) to K75,000 (US$7,500) was a preserve of the electoral body.

“Section 21 and 23 of the Electoral Act number 12 of 2006 refer to the nomination fees that candidates to the office of the President and National assembly are expected to pay. The nomination fees are determined by ECZ,” said Justice Chulu.
Peter Sinkamba

He also announced the adjustment of nomination fees for other elective offices.

“Parliamentary candidates will pay K10,000 (from K5,000), Mayoral candidates will pay K10,000, Council Chairperson candidates will pay K5,000, Councillor for city and municipal K2,000 (from K100) while councillor for rural pays K1,500 (from K50),” he added.

This increase has been condemned by various opposition political parties, civil society activists and people aspiring for various offices.

Green Party President Peter Sinkamba says the increase is ridiculous.

Allan Sakala
“Whilst I can afford to pay for my presidential nomination fees, I find this measure extremely ridiculous because it bars rural populations from participating in governance systems,” said Sinkamba who lost the 2015 Presidential election.

His words were echoed by other interested parties.

Allan Sakala, an aspiring independent candidate for Munali constituency in Lusaka, has even threatened to sue the electoral body.

“Guru (Allan Sakala) will be taking the ECZ to court over the high nomination fees. Politics and leadership can never be the preserve of the rich and the corrupt,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

And reggae artist Maiko Zulu, who is aspiring as an independent candidate for Kabwata constituency in Lusaka, has also complained about the new nomination fees describing them as too high and unrealistic.
Maiko Zulu

“The revised nomination fees for candidates for the 2016 general elections are too high and not reflective of the present economic living conditions of ordinary Zambians. The electoral process seems to now be a preserve for the rich, thereby commercialising participation of leadership,” said Zulu.

But the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), a civil society organisation, says the hike in nomination fees will result in Zambia having the most expensive ever election this year.

“If these nomination fees are allowed to go unchallenged, it will be a clear promotion of discrimination and marginalisation of the poor in the electoral system and process which will be contrary to the provisions of Article 45 (a) (c) and (d) which tries to ensure that citizens freely exercise their political rights,” said FODEP executive director MacDonald Chipenzi.

“The resultant of such a move will make the 2016 general elections the most expensive elections Zambia has ever seen since independence and will be millionaires’ and educated people’s electoral game,” he added.
According to the ECZ, candidates will have to make a 50% down payment of the nomination fees before filing the nomination papers.

MacDonald Chipenzi
Presidential candidates will file their nominations between May 30 and June 3 while Mayoral candidates and those contesting as Council Chairperson will file their papers on May 30.

Parliamentary candidates will file their nomination on 31 May.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu is expected to dissolve Parliament in May to pave way for official campaigns whose period the ECZ says will run from May 16 to August 10.

Zambia has over six million registered voters who will be electing a President, 156 Members of Parliament and over 1, 400 Councillors and an unspecified number of Mayors and Council Chairpersons.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Zambia Records 1.2 Million New Voters Ahead Of 2016 Polls

By Paul Shalala
Sylvia Bwalya

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has disclosed that it has registered 1, 2 46, 626 new voters ahead of the 2016 general elections.

Zambia already has 5, 166, 088 voters registered during the 2010 registration exercise which preceded the 2011 general elections.

This brings the total number of registered voters in Zambia to 6, 412, 714.

The ECZ embarked on a voter registration exercise from 11 September to 14 November with a target of capturing 1.5 million new voters.

With a shortfall of about 200, 000 voters to reach its target, the electoral body has announced an extension to the voter registration exercise to commence on 23 November to capture more voters.

ECZ Spokesperson Sylvia Bwalya also said 1, 235, 633 people updated their voter details while 23, 783 people on the old voters register were struck out on account of death.

She further released the provincial registrations as follows:

Lusaka Province: 241, 301 new registrations, 166, 461 updates and 2, 030 death notices.

Southern Province: 205, 259 new registrations, 184, 715 updates, and 2, 217 death notices.

Central Province: 138, 649 new registrations, 124, 850 updates, and 2, 205 death notices.

Eastern Province: 133, 786 new registrations, 136, 586 updates and 1, 727 death notices.

Copperbelt Province: 123, 039 new registrations, 150, 539 updates, and 2, 405 death notices.

Newly issued voters cards and National Registration Cards
Northern Province: 116, 016 new registrations, 98, 151 updates, and 3, 189 death notices.

Western Province: 97, 582 new registrations, 117, 812 updates, and 4, 408 death notices.

Muchinga Province: 77, 790 new registrations, 70, 392 updates, and 2, 066 death notices.

Luapula Province: 61, 000 new registrations, 97, 597 updates, and 2, 029 death notices.

North Western Province: 52, 204 new registrations, 88, 530 updates and 1, 507 death notices.

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. 

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.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

How ICTs Help Promote Transparency During Elections In Zambia

TIZ's PVT results for presidential elections
By Paul Shalala in Masaiti

In a democracy like Zambia's, transparency is a critical component to good governance.

In the political arena, campaigns and elections are supposed to be held in the most transparent manner if democracy is to be deemed mature.

But stories of vote buying, rigging, voter intimidation and several other electoral malpractices are common in most African countries.

In Zambia, most times when opposition political parties lose elections (including by-elections), stories of vote rigging are common.

But new technologies may soon prove to be a solution to the issue of transparency and good governance in Africa.

Since 2011, all elections in Zambia have come under scrutiny by the citizens through the use of Information Communications Technologies (ICTs).

With the latest figures showing that there are about 9 million Zambians who have registered their sim cards with the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), the use of these phones to get election updates has increased over the years.

According to ZICTA, 3 million of the 9 million phone owners have access to the internet and most Zambians use them for Facebook and Twitter.

PF's PVT results for Chawama
Through such ICT platforms like the Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) which the then opposition Patriotic Front (PF) used to monitor and ascertain the results of the 2011 General Elections, the use of ICTs has become an indispensable tool in elections in Zambia.

On September 11, 2014 the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) piloted the electronic transmission of results for the Kasenengwa parliamentary by-election in the Eastern province.

Using mobile phones and computers to collect and transmit results, the ECZ was able to announce final results within 12  hours of the last ballot having been cast.

This use of ICTs to collect election results made the declaration of the winner faster as opposed to the manual system were the ECZ relied on the Zambia Airforce to transport ballot boxes from remote areas to the collation center on Chipata which would have taken more time.

During the 20 January, 2015 presidential election, the civil society also used ICTs to monitor and update the nation on the election results.

For example, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) gathered election results per constituency and posted results on its Facebook page from time to time as seen in the screen shot above.

Millions of Zambia who are on Facebook, stayed glued online to get updates from TIZ, political parties, individuals and other civil society organisations who were posting results from their PVT centers.

And last week during the parliamentary by-elections in Chawama, Masaiti and Senga Hill, various political parties used mobile phones to gather election results from their dozens of polling agents who were spread across the polling stations in the three constituencies.

As can be seen in the screen shots from PF's Miles Sampa (above) and UPND's Honourable Cheche Kalala (right),  political parties compiled their respective election results before the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced its official results.

Cheche Kalala of UPND posting PVT results
These were authentic election results pasted outside polling stations after being officially announced by electoral officers at each polling station and sent back to each political party's PVT center in Lusaka by polling agents through Short Message Service (SMS).

Using this PVT system has proved to be so effective and political parties in Zambia even know before the ECZ announces its results as to who has won elections and with how many votes.

These ICT tools have also helped increase the confidence citizens have in the management of elections in the country.

With the citizens participating in verifying these election results using mobile phones and the internet, cases of rigging are now being done away with as voters can now compare results announced at each polling station and the official figures announced by ECZ at the collation centers.