-The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has started the delimitation process of wards and polling district boundaries throughout the country in preparation for 2016 tripartite elections.
Speaking at the official opening of a three- day district delimitation sitting in Kazungula ,ECZ Chairperson Justice Ireen Mambilima said the current delimitation exercise which started in July will review the existing wards and polling district boundaries.
Justice Mambilima said the exercise will further involve the creation of new wards and polling districts thereby establishing new polling stations where necessary.
She said the exercise has been necessitated by several factors which include the long distances that voters cover during voter registration and elections as well as the population increase.
This is contained in a speech read for her by District Electoral Officer who is also Kazungula District Council Secretary Winstone Kasonkomona.
Justice Mambilima charged that the Commission would like to ensure that distances are reduced between polling stations and thus making it easier for the electorate to access the polling stations.
She mentioned that the Commission has also established that some of the polling stations are located in places not convenient for conducting elections adding that such polling stations needed to be relocated to more suitable sites.
“I wish to emphasize that the commission will only be able to effect the delimitation of the new council wards after the Ministry of Local Government issues the Statutory Instrument to legalize the new wards in accordance with Section 9 (2) of the Local Government Act CAP 281,” Justice Mambilima said.
She said the Act states that ‘after consultation with a council, the Minister of Local Government and Housing may, by Statutory order, alter the number of councilors of which the council consists’.
Justice Mambilima however, said the current delimitation exercise will not include the creation of more constituencies because the current constitution only provides for 150 constituencies.
She added that government in its quest to efficiently deliver services to the citizens, has embarked on decentralization of the country’s governance system which resulted into the creation of 29 new districts across the country thereby increasing the national total of districts from 74 to 103.
Justice Mambilima said this development has resulted in the revision of some of the district boundaries to pave way for the new districts adding that the Commission will have to adjust some constituency, ward and polling district boundaries to avoid a situation where a constituency falls within two or more districts.
She expressed hope that in the meantime, the delimitation of polling districts will result in the delivery of more efficient electoral services.
Meanwhile, Katombola Member of Parliament Derrick Livune and other councilors have expressed concern over the Commission’s decision not to consider Kazungula district for delimitation of wards stating that the district is vast and needed one or two more wards to add to the existing 14.
But ECZ Systems Manager Fredrick Liemisa said the issue raised will be presented to the Commission for consideration.
In his presentation, Mr. Liemisa explained that Kazungula district will in the mean time be considered for creation of polling stations only because it did not give birth to a new district a situation that caused reactions from the civic leaders.