LUSAKA, 29 March 2021 – Opposition political parties and civil society activists are deeply disappointed by a new provisional voters’ registrar which purges eligible voters.
The new rolls effectively pack the deck in favor of the ruling party, the main opposition party has alleged.
The criticism comes on the heels of the publication by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) of the most updated roll of eligible voters expected to participate in the country’s next general elections scheduled for 12 August 2021.
The sharpest accusations, also the most damning, are that thousands of Zambians from provinces where the opposition United Party for National Development won the most votes during the general elections of 2016 have been purged from the rolls.
Rights groups and journalists who have cross-examined the new roll and cross-checked against the old one, say the claims by the opposition and pro-democracy activists are fully validated.
Both the opposition and civil society activists have called for an independent audit, but the ECZ has said it has no intention to submit to any audit.
At the start of the revamping of voters’ rolls, the ECZ announced that its ambition was to register up to nine million eligible Zambians – significantly higher than the 6.7 million in the old registrar.
The new voters’ roll is a compendium of just above seven million eligible voters.
The fewer than 400,000 increase in the number of additional voters means the ECZ has left out millions of Zambians.
Almost two million Zambians have turned 18 since the last general elections in 2016, according to the most conservative of demographic projections.
The major discrepancy that the opposition is decrying as tantamount to packing the deck in favor of the ruling Patriotic Front is the fact that more voters have been registered in provinces where the ruling party won the most votes in 2016.
The eastern province from where Zambian President Edgar Lungu hails has seen an additional 120,324 voters added to its roll.
In places where the opposition won the most votes, the numbers have fallen sharply even compared to the number of voters on the rolls in 2016.
The home province of Zambia’s opposition political leader, Hakainde Hichilema, has seen 31,978 voters purged from the rolls published in 2021 compared to the rolls used for the 2016 general election.