By Bennie Mundando
WE are taken aback to hear that the issuance of the NRCs in Southern, Western, Lusaka, Muchinga and Central Provinces has been postponed, Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative Executive Director MacDonald Chipenzi has said.
The exercise, which was earmarked under phase II, was supposed to have started on Sept 1, 2020.
Mr. Chipenzi says the reasons being advanced for this postponement are very weak, unconvincing, and disturbing to any right thinking person.
He says in as much as phase I has failed to meet the projected numbers of 770, 000 cards to be issued in 40 days in five provinces since the last update after close to 30 days in the exercise only managed to capture 331, 000 cards, phase II should not suffer because of the challenges of phase I.
“The circumstances that may gave to the failure to meet that target numbers in these five provinces in Phase I may be different and citizens’ enthusiasm also different, therefore cannot be generalised. However, lack to limited sensitization/ awareness progammes and politicization of the programme by Government could be the major contributory factors
“The Government must know that many of these provinces earmarked for Phase II will be receiving rains soon while others will be engaged in agricultural preparatory activities which may affect the delivery of this service to the eligible beneficiaries.
“It is also disturbing to receive reports that in these same areas earmarked for Phase II, the normal issuance of these national identity documents at Civic centres is limited to 20 people per day sending majority back to their homes on account of Covid-19 measures,” Mr. Chipenzi said.
He says the scenario is very discouraging and has generated complaints but unattended to but that had this normal process been as efficient as envisaged and accommodative, phase II of the exercise would have found a few unattended to clients.
“Therefore, we recommend that Phase II should commence as planned and run concurrently with the remaining or extended days of Phase I as any delay may affect voter registration exercise negatively and people’s morale to participate in the exercise.
“However, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) must learn valuable lessons from this unfolding event at the Ministry of Home Affairs. If the issuance of 770, 000 NRCs in five provinces has taken over 50 days and 1.5 million NRCs for the nation may now take over 100 days, how is it going to register 9 million voters in 30 days especially that the catchment area and target group is the same?