By McDonald Chipenzi
ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION AND THE CURRENT ELECTORAL LAW
Checking through the legal framework currently in force governing the elections, I have not bumped into any provision that allows or talks about conducting online voter registration when registering voters in Zambia.
This may be another illegality being committed by the Electoral management body ahead of the 2021 General Election .
There is no legal framework that currently provides for the online registration of voters either in the Constitution or subsidiary laws, rules and regulations unless these have been just made. Therefore, this may be an act of illegal and lawless by the ECZ.
These actions of the ECZ, however, well intentioned they may be, require the backing of the law and that will be the only protector to the Commission in an event of an electoral dispute.
The current Electoral Process Act of 2016 and the relevant statutory instruments (1973 as amended in 2005) prescribe voter registration by physical means, not online.
The absence of any provision in the law that allows the ECZ to conduct online voter registration explains why the government seeks to introduce such legislation in the proposed Electoral Process (Amendment) Bill of 2019, which remains before Parliament to date awaiting the passage of Bill 10.
Under this amendment Bill, the principal Act is proposed to be amended by the repeal of section 74 and the substitution therefore of the following:
“The Commission may use electronic means to register voters, transmit results from a polling station; and facilitate voting of a citizen outside the Republic,” end of quote.
Why not wait until the law is amended and enacted before undertaking the online registration exercise than rush into such an illegality and lawlessness?
The trouble with the opposition and Zambians at large is not only failing to thwart these illegalities but also it is that we never take seriously the administrative and legal details of the elections.
By the time they wake to, it will be too late and pursuing a petition thereafter might be an exercise in futility.