Preparations for the 2021 general elections in Zambia, may already be underway, but for a number of stake holders, they are far from inspiring.
From the start of the year, negative views associated with the electoral process have been popping up, starting from the late start of voter registration to alleged non-transparency, by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), which is mandated to manage elections.
The announcement recently, of ECZ’s incapacity to sponsor stakeholders, such as political party representatives, civil society and media to Dubai, to witness the printing of ballot papers, due to lack of funds, has rubbed some of the stakeholders the wrong way.
The reason behind this failure to sponsor stakeholders is not convincing, because the government has always budgeted for such activities, according to civil society activist, McDonald Chipenzi.
He observes that only the ruling party has the financial muscle to sponsor themselves, adding that this would heighten suspicions regarding the electoral process.
“If the justification is the cost associated with such an undertaking, why then has the ECZ been opting to print ballot papers from expensive places in the world, like Dubai?” Chipenzi wonders
Nomination Fee Too High For Young Candidates
For young politicians, such as Reagan Mubatsa, a Councillor in a ward called, ‘Chikobo’, the nomination fees for candidates are too high and disadvantage young people, who would want to contest for Councillor, Member of Parliament or President.
Mubatsa suggests in an open letter to ECZ, through their Facebook platform, that two separate fees be pegged for older and youth candidates, respectively, with a lower fee for the latter, failure to which, he warns, the youth would boycott voter registration this year.
“We extremely hate this situation of deliberately deciding to abuse, take advantage of us [and] voluntarily blocking us from the elective key decision making positions,” he laments.
Delayed Voter Registration
Samuel Chipazi, a youth and governance non-governmental organisation leader is worried by the delayed start of voter registration and urges the electoral commission to speed up the process, so that more young people can participate in the elections.
“There is a realisation among young people, that they can have a say on governance through voting and can only do that by having a voter registration card, so the delay is worrisome,” says Chipazi
Chipazi is further saddened that the electoral process has also been characterised by a lot of smearing.
“It’s sad to note that there’s a lot of character assassination among our politicians, unlike issue-based politics,” he observes.