MASSIVE VOTER EDUCATION NEEDED -FODEP

The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) says the high number of rejected ballots recorded during the just ended elections shows just how much voter education is needed in the country.

Speaking during an interview with Lusaka Star, FODEP Executive Director George Chimembe, said the number of rejected ballots recorded shows that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and other stakeholders did not meet their quota on voter education in preparation of the electorates for the polling day.

Mr. Chimembe explained that a number of factors such as low funding and the global pandemic, caused inadequate dissemination of voter education information.

As a precaution measure, we were avoiding super spreader activities and limiting our gatherings to just 50 people per activity and that is very costly and time consuming to do,

he said.

The Executive Director added that many Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) were restricted in carrying out the necessary activities involved in educating the voters.

He added that FODEP, ECZ and other stakeholders should invest in civic education and work in close correlation in order to ensure that citizens are more informed on how to cast their vote correctly.

We are trying to see how we can partner with ECZ to roll out civic education in secondary schools and tertiary institutions, in order to target the first time voters who will be eligible to vote in the next General Elections,

Mr. Chimembe said.

He also urged ECZ to not print voter education materials abroad, but rather use government or local printers in order to save time.

The Executive Director said this year’s General Elections saw stakeholders receiving materials a few days prior to polling day, inhibiting their ability to massively distribute them to the public.

Meanwhile, Born Short Living Tall (BSLT) Executive Director Ntalasha Chisha has said the General Elections were difficult for differently-abled persons, as they had little access to campaign messages and voter education.

Mr. Chisha explained that the organization received complaints from some of its visually-impaired members on how the voting was being carried out in the booths, as they were only accorded numbers while it was the privilege of another person to see the name of the candidate.

He added that he hopes government and the society at large will be more inclusive and not discriminate against people who are differently-abled because they interact differently with situations and the environment.

Mr. Chisha said change will begin from the issuance  of National Registration Cards (NRCs), registration of voters and voter education to ensure that differently-abled individuals are incorporated into the system and are given a chance to not only vote, but also stand for an election.

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