Southern African News Features                                           SANF 11 No 19, August 2011
Zambia goes to the polls on 20 September

Zambia will hold the 2011 general elections on 20 September following the dissolution of the Cabinet and the National Assembly at the end of July by President Rupiah Banda in line with the country’s constitution.

Banda announced in a live broadcast that he had signed the Electoral (General Elections) (Date of Poll) Declaration Order –Statutory Instrument No. 76 of 2011, which effectively dissolved Cabinet and Parliament as of 28 July 2011.

“Further, I have also signed the Local Government Elections (Date and Times of Poll) Order – Statutory Instrument No. 77 of 2011. This means the local government elections will be held together with the presidential and parliamentary elections. I can now announce to the nation that the elections will be held on 20 September, 2011,” President Banda said.

Banda of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) will face the stiff challenge of opposition leaders Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) and Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

The MMD was the first political party to unveil its 150 parliamentary candidates in July, including about 15 women.

Other parties are yet to announce their candidates for the parliamentary elections.

A total of 709 parliamentary candidates contested for 150 seats in the National Assembly during the 2006 elections. Out of these, 103 were women.

Banda noted that Zambia had a proud history of democracy which must be built up and urged all political parties and candidates for local government, National Assembly and presidential elections to conduct themselves with integrity, honour and fairness during the campaigns.

He appealed to Zambians to avoid lies, smears, political thuggery and negative campaigning.

“The revised Electoral Code of Conduct of 2011 sets out quite clearly the rules and regulations covering the coming election period. So I urge all candidates and all bodies covered by the Code to adhere to it,” he said.

The tripartite elections will be the sixth presidential polls to take place in Zambia since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1991 when the country’s liberation party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) lost power to the ruling MMD.

Preparations for the general elections are progressing well, with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announcing that it requires more than 60,000 officials to conduct this year’s vote.

ECZ director Priscilla Isaac said the commission had embarked on various legal and administrative activities to ensure that the elections are conducted to the letter and spirit of the laws of the land, and to the satisfaction of stakeholders.

The activities include voter registration, a delimitation exercise, review of the Electoral Code of Conduct and recruitment of polling officers.

The ECZ said 1,279,181 new registrations had been captured by the close of the voter registration exercise in March, resulting in the total number of eligible voters rising to 5,223,316.

Inspection of the provisional register closed on 12 June, after which the ECZ was expected to consolidate the register and certify it by 31 July.

“The commission is unable to extend the exercise this time around due to the fact that the final register has to be certified by 31st July, 2011 and any extension will delay the process,” said Isaac.

This will be the second time that the ECZ will be using a computerised voter registration system introduced in 2006.

All voters’ details, including fingerprints, are available electronically, which quickens the verification process.

In consultation with a cross section of stakeholders, the commission undertook a review of the Electoral Code of Conduct in 2010 with a view to strengthening it.

Isaac said the code will be translated in seven major vernacular languages and distributed to rural areas. Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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