[By Peter Clottey] Official campaigning for Zambia’s August 11 presidential, parliamentary and local elections begins Monday, says the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
Electoral commission chairman Justice Esau E. Chulu has launched the inspection of the provisional voter list. During this process, prospective voters are required to verify their information in the provisional voter register before a final list is compiled for the elections.
The electoral body says this period is the last chance voters have to ensure their information is accurate on the voters list. All participating political parties registered with the ECZ including the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and main opposition (UPND) United Party for National Development are to monitor the verification phase.
“We expect that all the registration centers that would be polling stations for this year’s general election have also opened for the inspection of the provisional roll by voters in their respective constituency. This process will go on until the 21st of May, and we are not extending, because at the conclusion of the exercise, we are having an audit undertaken of the voters register before we finally certify it on the 31st of July,” says Priscilla Isaac, director of elections at the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
“Everybody is supposed to inspect and some organizations have asked for accreditation to enable them sit in the registration centers to observe what is going on. So, each and every one who registered as a voter, whether it was last year or during the 2005-2006 exercise, they are all expected to come in and inspect their particulars, to ensure that their individual particulars are correct, and also to make sure that they have not been inadvertently omitted from the voters roll.”
Isaac says the Electoral Commission of Zambia has intensified voter education using print, television and radio stations across the country, as well as social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to encourage voters to be part of the electoral process. She says political parties and civil society groups have been urged to help in an effort to reduce voter apathy.
Isaac says political parties are being urged to call their supporters to refrain from violence during the campaign begins and elections.
The ruling PF and the opposition UPND planned to hold their campaign rallies at the same venue on Saturday, which would have been against the electoral commission’s calendar of events.
“We’ve asked [the political parties] to submit their campaign programs to the local police and the local district election officer so that at least when they give their notification or when they are going to hold their rallies and public meetings, there can be proper coordination so that we minimize complaints of people not being allowed to assemble as they has asked because of possible clashes with respective party programs,” said Isaac.
“As a commission we advised them not to and they heeded to our advice, and so everybody would be starting to campaign on the 16th".
Incumbent President Edgar Lungu faces a stiff challenge from main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in the presidential election on August 11.