ZAMBIA National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) executive director Juliet Chibuta said many eligible voters were yesterday disenfranchised by the narrow criteria, and the short period of time allocated for the replacement of voters’ cards.
“A survey conducted in 77 constituencies countrywide revealed that some people, especially women, failed to have their voters’ cards replaced because they were advised to have their cards replaced in districts where they originally registered and most of them had no resources to travel,” Ms Chibuta said.
Ms Chibuta said ECZ should have started the voters’ replacement exercise much earlier to allow as many citizens as possible to replace their voters’ cards.
“We note from the information released by the ECZ that from the number of voters who have managed to replace their cards, only 18,553 women were successful as opposed to 33,545 men. This is despite women being the majority voters in Zambia.
Such a discrepancy calls for an investigation into why fewer women as compared to men were not able or not willing to have their cards replaced so that they could take up their right to vote,” Ms Chibuta said.
And some people in various parts of the country implored ECZ to ensure that the voter registration and replacement exercise for 2016 general elections commences early to avoid disfranchising would-be voters.
Kunda Checkup of Luanshya one of the residents spoken to said she could not participate in yesterday’s elections because she could not replace her voter’s card.
“I feel the period which was given was not enough, and some of us did not even know that exercise was going on, next time they should sensitise communities about the programme and give it enough time to allow would be voters to take part in the elections,” Ms Checkup said.
And Melody Hambulo of Lusaka’s Kuku township is also saddened that she did vote for her preferred candidate yesterday as she failed to replace her lost voter’s card.
“I really wanted to vote but I was not aware of the voter replacement exercise, I am appealing to ECZ to give the exercise more days so that we can replace and take part, it is my constitutional right to vote and not taking part feels as though I am deprived of my rights,” Ms Hambulo said.