Take ECZ calendar seriously

NOW it is time for political parties and individuals intending to participate in this year’s general elections to put their houses in order if they have to avoid crying foul in an event that they lost.
We say so because past elections have been characterised by unnecessary and unjustified complaints. Some of them could have been avoided had contestants organised themselves in advance.
It is under this year’s elections that Zambians had to renew the voters’ register that was previously updated in 2016 and, clearly, there could be some information that will require clarification.
Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has given stakeholders ample time to prepare by releasing the elections calendar and circulating it to all stakeholders five months before the polls.
ECZ will, in this year’s election, be working with a totally new voters’ register following the registration that was conducted recently.
The timetable for activities includes verification of the provisional register of voters, certification of the register, nominations, campaign period, nomination petitions and the general elections scheduled for August 12, 2021.
The commission has urged political parties to recruit and train sufficient polling agents to ensure that all participating political parties and candidates are represented in polling stations and totalling centres.
Going by the highlighted activities like verification of provisional voters’ register, it is important that one avoids being inconvenienced on the actual polling day by verifying details now.
Past experience has shown us that there was time when some candidates claimed to have missed nominations on account of not knowing the actual days and time.
With the calendar already set out, candidates have been given an opportunity to mobilise supporters who would escort them for nominations.
We have also heard cries by some political parties of not having had enough campaign time and space. Now that the election calendar is in circulation, political parties can plan properly for campaign schedules.
There is no doubt that polling agents play a critical role in elections, especially at a time of vote counting.
It is a fact that this year’s elections, being tripartite, will have more candidates and more ballot papers, hence the need to recruit enough agents to cater for the demand at totalling centres.
Apart from facing the threat of coronavirus, ECZ will, yet for the first time, also have to cater for voters registered from correctional facilities.
According to the released calendar, voter registration ran from November 9 to December 20, consolidation of voter registration data was conducted between December 30, 202 and January 31.
The commission would  conduct verification of voter register details for electronic provisional register between February 7 and May 7, while physical inspection runs up to April 2, with voter register certification on May 9.
Presidential nominations will be conducted between May 10 and 14, nominations for Members of Parliament; mayors and council chairpersons on May 11 while ward councillor nominations take place on May 12.
ECZ has also set a period from May 14 to August 11 for campaigns and May 15 to June 11 for nomination petitions before voting on August 14.
We hope that having released the elections calendar in good time, for once, this year’s elections could be satisfactory to all stakeholders and avoid tensions in the aftermath.