United Party For National development (UPND) Leader Hakainde Hichilema has demanded for the immediate extension of the on-going voter registration exercise until all eligible Zambians are captured.
Addressing a press briefing at the UPND secretariat this morning, Mr Hichilema also called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia to deploy extra man power and kits to polling stations across the country in order to avoid disfranchising eligible voters.
“Extend the voter registration not by a month, not by two months but until all the eligible voters are registered. After all, the Electoral Act of 2016 is clear that there must be a continuous voter registration exercise. Even the 30 days was against the law,” he demanded.
He said the Department for National Registration and Passports’ failure to issue NRC to eligible Zambians coupled with the failure by ECZ to issue voters’ cards to eligible citizens was a PF ploy to rig the 2021 elections.
“The PF is sabotaging the 2021 elections by issuing NRCs to people in selected provinces and this is undoubtedly a rigging scheme. Rigging elections is not only done during voting day, the way the PF is disadvantaging deserving Zambians from acquiring NRCs is rigging. We don’t want to be duped this way,” he added.
Wondering the elections body has been adamant on its refusal to extend the voter registration exercise, the opposition leader said the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) was mandated by the Electoral Act of 2016 to conduct continuous voter registration.
He also accused ECZ Chairperson, Esau Chulu of failing to implement the pledge that he made during the President’s Summit that the Commission would be conducting the exercise in all the 9, 000 polling and that they would be capturing 33 people per day as a way of capturing the targeted 8.5 million to 9 million voters.
He has since appealed to the Government to immediately release the resources needed to extend the exercise.
“Those who are controlling public resources must release those resources to the ECZ so that they can register more voters. The owners of the resources are saying, ‘take our resources to all the 10 provinces so that we can acquire NRCs and voters cards,” he said.
The accusations of potential manipulation of voters were first raised by the Young African Leaders Initiative who accused some staff of the Commission of a scheme to allocate more registration kits to the opposition strongholds than other parts of the country.