By GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA
THE UPND has argued that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) must not cut off the voter registration to 30 days but proceed with an assurance by the Ministry of Home Affairs that they have covered the entire country in the issuance of National Registration Cards (NRC).
Ms Gertrude Imenda suing in her capacity as UPND deputy secretary-general has cited ECZ and the Attorney General as respondents in the matter where they want the Lusaka High Court to stop it from conducting online voter registration.
Ms Imenda in her skeleton arguments in support of originating motion for judicial review said ECZ is vested with power under Section 28 of the Electoral Process Act to compile an election timetable for each election and in furtherance of the same to provide the closing date of the registration of voters.
She argued that the law does not allow ECZ to execute its mandate capriciously because the legislation found it necessary to not only propagate specific laws for the registration of voters but went further to provide regulations requiring it to follow prescribed protocols for the registration of voters.
Ms Imenda said there is a procedural requirement for ECZ to act reasonably in the decision made under section 28 by taking into consideration the public interest and furtherance of democratic tenets.
“The applicant contends that reducing the voter registration period to 30 days in the penultimate year of Presidential and general elections for August 12, 2021 is too short to allow citizens to register considering that voter registration is highly dependent on the exercise for the registration of National Registration Cards,” she said. She argued that the 30 days cut-off period will only advantage those regions in the country that have been accorded the opportunity to fairly participate in the voter registration exercise and would result in “gerrymandering” by the resultant effect of disenfranchising some regions of the country.
She stated that the decision to discard the voter register is not only dangerous to the country’s democracy but gravely illegal because it flouts section 7 of the Electoral Process Act.
“The consequences of this decision are too ghastly to contemplate for our nascent democracy. One can only imagine what would happen if a person leaving in diaspora travels from abroad to cast his vote only to find that his name was wiped out of the voter register and coupled with that ECZ only made a 30-day window for citizens to register from October 18, 2020,” said Ms Imenda
By GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA