LUCY LUMBE, Lusaka
IN AUGUST 2017, the Constitutional Court of Zambia passed a verdict that historically changed the electoral process by allowing inmates to cast their votes during elections. This was a landmark decision that was secured following Prison Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA) executive director Godfrey Malembeka’s decision to petition the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Attorney General in the Constitutional Court.
Mr Malembeka wanted the court to declare that section 7 (e) contravenes Article 45 (1) a, b, c and Article 46 of the Constitution and must be expunged from the State book. He also wanted a declaration that all remandees and pre-trial remandees and convicts whose cases are on appeal and unable to secure bail be allowed to vote. With his efforts to have the voices of inmates heard through the ballot, inmates in correctional facilities will for the first time in Zambia’s history participate in the voting exercise on August 12. Suffice to mention that there has been a surge in advocacy calling for the extension of voting rights to the incarcerated. International, regional and domestic human rights standards have set precedents, recognising political participation as a fundamental human right. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides for the right and opportunity of all citizens to participate in public affairs and to vote. Similarly, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights makes provision for citizens to freely participate in the government of their country as provided for in the law. Other countries on the African continent that have extended the right to vote to the correctional facilities include South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria. With only 13 days left until the poll date, correctional facilities have not been CLICK TO READ MORE