ECZ’s Voter education a missed opportunity-TI-Z

 ECZ’s Voter education a missed opportunity-TI-Z

By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) says that the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s voter education is a missed opportunity.

Chapter President Sampa Kalungu said the need for citizens to be made aware of different aspects of the electoral process cannot be overemphasized.

“The primary legal mandate for raising awareness on elections lies with the ECZ. Section 80 of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 states that the ECZ is mandated to provide voter education and information that will enable citizens to participate meaningfully in the electoral process,” he said.

Mr Kalunga said TI-Z’s observation in relation to this mandate is that the ECZ has done very little civic awareness and voter education.

He also said TI-Z observed that it is only in the last three weeks that ECZ’s voter education advertisements have been running in the electronic and print media.

“Our expectation was that the voter education campaign should have run concurrently with the official campaign period for the political parties, and we feel that this has been an opportunity lost on the part of the ECZ.

“The relative lack of voter education that we have witnessed could potentially lead either to apathy or to a high number of spoiled ballots, particularly from first-time voters who may not be too familiar with the voting process,” he said.

Mr Kalunga said that despite the missed opportunity, it is still essential for ECZ and other stakeholders to intensify civic awareness on elections in the remaining 8 days before polling day.

He has since encouraged all eligible voters to turn out in large numbers on August, 12, 2021 in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

“We are further confident that the ECZ will put in place measures that will ensure that voters are protected from the risk of Covid-19 on the day of voting,” he said.