The Electoral process is divided into three phases and is made up of eight sections being:
1. Pre-Election Phase
§ Electoral legislation: refers to laws protected in the Constitution and State Acts in Zambia this is the Electoral Code of Conduct.
§ Delimitation of Constituencies: This is the process whereby the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) consults citizens on the drawing up of boundaries of constituencies and wards.
§ Registration of Voters: This is the process where all persons who are eligible to vote register themselves and obtain a voter’s card to allow them to vote through the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)
§ Nominations: This is where each political party and independent candidates file in their papers to contest Presidential, Parliament and local government elections through the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
§ Campaign Period: This is the process where different political parties and independent candidates campaign to get people to vote for them by presenting the intended programmes and projects they intend to implement for the people once elected into office.
2. Election Day
§ Voting: This is the day that people who have registered to vote and have a voter’s card go to a polling station to secretly vote for the candidate of their choice.
§ Counting of the Votes: This is the process immediately after voting is closed where votes are counted in the presence of all partakers under the watchful eye of election monitors and observers.
§ Announcement of results: This is the process where the Presiding Officer records the number of votes for each candidate within that polling station and Party agents and observers check to ensure the results are correct. This is when the Returning Officer adds the results from all the polling stations and announces the results of the elections at the collation center.
3. Post Elections
§ Review of Elections: This is the process whereby partakers review concerns of election malpractice that reflect or show that the elections were either not free or fair.
Zambia’s Electoral System uses the ‘First Past, The Post’ system since independence in 1964 and this means that
§ The country is divided into roughly equal constituencies from which only one representative is chosen to sit in parliament.
§ Candidates contesting elections stand as individuals and not political parties even when supported by a political party.
§ Independent candidates are allowed to contest any constituency in elections
§ The winner of the election can secure needed votes and not majority votes and becomes the winner.
General Principles of Elections are that they:
§ People’s choose their representatives
§ Serve to give direction and guidance for public office appointments
§ Demonstrate the people’s sovereignty
§ Ensure accountability of politicians
§ Give legitimacy to governments.
Principal Functions of the Electoral Process
§ Promote and ensure effective representation in the three arms of government
§ Register people’s views
§ Allows for choice and formation of government
§ Mechanism for holding elected officials accountable
§ Provides choice in terms of policy design and implementation
§ Facilitation and promotion of a competitive political party system.
The Stability of the Electoral Process depends on the following:
§ It must be highly understood by voters for it to be effective and get as many Zambians as possible to participate
§ It must be affordable to the State
KEY PARTAKERS OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AND THEIR ROLES
§ ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA
ð This is the body that has been mandated and protected by the constitution to manage elections and the electoral process in Zambia.
ð It creates constituencies and wards for all elections
ð It reviews the number, boundaries and names of constituencies
ð Registers voters through continuous voter registration (CVR) and maintains the voters register.
ð It directs and supervises all elections.
ð The constitution does not require the ECZ to conduct civic and voter education (CVE) but it has taken the initiative due to high levels of voter apathy in Zambia.
ð ECZ established the National Voter Education Committee (NVEC) in 2001 to promote a non-partisan voter education programme nationwide to encourage people to participate in the electoral process. NVEC is made up of 11 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and it provides support to the commission and is decentralized to include District Voter Education Committee (DVEC) that operates at district level.
§ POLITICAL PARTIES IN ZAMBIA
ð Political parties are divided into the ruling party and the opposition and the opposition’s job is to provide check and balances to the ruling party.
ð Parties bring people with similar political ideas together
ð They are a forum for people with varied interests to meet, organize and campaign
ð Provide organizational support in organizing and financing election campaigns, developing policies and recruiting members
ð Parties develop policies and determine party attitudes to legislation and issues of the day.
ð Are avenues for community groups to influence the decision making process
ð Are main avenues for political debate and discussion in local communities
ð In Zambia political parties are being encouraged to participate in civic and voter education
§ CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
ð Are influential in holding government and the opposition accountable on various issues
ð They are answerable to the people of Zambia and promote the needs and wishes of the people.
ð They lobby and advocate government and the state in design and implementation of public policy.
ð They monitor and observe elections and the electoral process
ð They conduct civic and voter education
ð This refers to the group of registered voters in possession of a valid voter’s card.
ð Each Zambia must claim their right to vote as it is protected in the Constitution
ð Each citizen only has one vote
ð Each one has an equal opportunity to participate in elections and this opportunity is protected in the constitution.
ð Each citizen is free to vote for a leader of their choice
ð Everyone’s vote is a secret.
ð Each citizen must promote the Electoral Code of Conduct
ð Each citizen must denounce electoral corruption
ð Each citizen must refuse to partake in electoral violence.
ð The media has a moral obligation to give participating candidates and parties equal media coverage
ð Must consistently provide Zambians with information that can help them make informed decisions on the day of voting
ð Must consistently incorporate or integrate gender issues into all election topics
ð Must consistently denounce all forms of electoral malpractices and violence
ð Must undertake Civic and Voter Education programmes
ð Must include programmes that provide outreach activities for persons with disabilities.
§ YOUTH AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
ð Must be supported to reach for leadership positions
ð Must seek to be adequately represented in all political party structures
ð Youth must consistently denounce electoral violence and openly refuse to be used as militias by their party leadership and instead demand to be given progressive and constructive roles in their party structures and be recognized as future leaders of tomorrow.
ð Youth must demand to be groomed to take over party positions in the future.
ð Persons with disabilities must claim their rights to run for local office and have their voices heard through the media.
§ VOTER MOBILIZATION: YOUR VOTE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
WHAT IS VOTING?
The process of choosing representatives that will promote you wishes and needs and include you in decision making at all levels of governance.
WHAT IS VOTER REGISTRATION?
This is the process whereby those who are eligible to vote register themselves and obtain a voter’s card to allow them to vote through the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO REGISTER TO VOTE?
ð A Zambian citizen in possession of a Green National Registration Card.
ð 18 years of age or will turn 18 by 31st July 2011.
I AM VOTING ON THE BASIS OF MY PARTNER OR PARENT’S CHOICE
ð No voting is your secret and only you should know. You must refuse to share the name of the person you are voting for and nobody can force you to reveal it. This secret is protected by the law. Guard it closely.
ð If somebody is pressuring you to reveal your secret stand your ground, this is a secret known by you and God.
ð Your partner and parents cannot and should not determine the choice of your vote.
HOW DO I DETERMINE WHO TO VOTE FOR?
ð Consider if the candidate is focused on issues of importance to you as an individual.
ð Consider issues such as service delivery in your communities.
ð Consider issues such as social and economic development policies affecting or that matter in your community
ð Consider how you engage with your leaders, do they listen to you and include you in policy design and implementation?
ð Consider if they promote and protect your basic fundamental rights.
ð Consider if they promote peace and dialogue in their engagement.
ð Consider if they share your morals and beliefs and if their actions are a reflection of this.
ð Consider if the leaders
HOW WILL MY VOTE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
ð By choosing a leader of your choice you will be giving yourself a chance to determine social and economic policies through community structures such as the Parliamentary Liaison Offices (PLO).
ð A chance to access effective service delivery through engagement with Local Councillors through council meetings and using these forums to hold your elected leaders accountable.
ð A chance to see the promotion and protection of rights that matter to you.
ð A chance to shape the history of your country
ð A chance to be fair represented at all structures of government.
WHAT CAN I DO TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO VOTE?
ð Share this information with your friends and family
ð Participate in all discussion forums in your communities
ð Take advantage of the volunteers that are in your communities to get more information on elections and the electoral process.
ð Preach peace and dialogue and denounce violence
ð Remind each other that elected leaders are servants of the people and it is your vote that gives them this privilege that you can take away at an election.
I AM A YOUTH HOW CAN I MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN MY COMMUNITY?
ð Engage your leadership to support to leadership development forums to mobilize voters
ð Lobby and advocate to be adequately represented at all political party structures
ð Consistently denounce electoral violence and openly refuse to be used as pawns of violence
ð Lobby, advocate and demand to be given progressive and constructive roles in your party structures and be recognized as future leaders of tomorrow. This can be done by attending community meetings and public discussion forums.
ð If you are within the age group, take a chance and run for public office to help shape the destiny of your community and country.
I AM A PERSON WITH DISABILITIES HOW CAN I MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN MY COMMUNITY?
ð You must claim your rights to run for local office and have your voices heard by attending community meetings and public discussion forums
ð Lobby, advocate and demand to be adequately represented at all structures in your community.
ð Organize community meetings to discuss issues that affect you and issues that you want your leaders to address to get your vote.
THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA IS NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH
ð The ECZ is constrained mainly by legal issues that can only be corrected through a change of the constitution and the electoral laws of the country.
ð The ECZ is not protected under the constitution to be independent from Government and the State.
ð The ECZ is not protected under the constitution to do its job without fear, favour and prejudice.
ð The ECZ does not have offices at all districts and all provinces nation wide
ð The ECZ is not given enough money to support it to be effective
ð The President has too much power of the work of the ECZ
WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL ISSUES IN OUR ELECTORAL PROCESS TO LOOK OUT FOR?
ð An electoral malpractice refers all forms of vote buying and gift giving in all forms. You can make a difference by encouraging members in your community not to let this determine your right to vote.
ð There is limited enforcement of the Electoral Code of Conduct and you have a moral responsibility to use all council meetings and public discussion forums to lobby and advocate your community leaders to lobby and advocate for the Electoral Code of Conduct to be enforced.
ð The selective application of the Public Order Act violates the right to freedom of association and this excludes participation by people in and outside your community.
WHAT IS THE ELECTORAL CODE OF CONDUCT?
ð This is document promotes conditions to conduct free and fair elections.
ð It grants every Zambian the right to campaign freely, express political opinions, and hold public meetings, debate and contest policies and programmes of other parties.
ð It prohibits violence of all forms and intimidating language
ð It prohibits making false allegations not connected to policies and programmes of political parties
ð It prohibits the use of public funds and resources in campaigns and prohibits use of government transport or facilities
ð It prohibits discrimination against any person on grounds of race, religion or gender.
ð Anyone found violating this law is to be fined ZMK300, 000.00 or be imprisoned for three months or both penalties apply.
ð The ECZ does not enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct and the Law Enforcement Agencies do not support the ECZ in doing this part of its job.
WHAT IS THE PUBLIC ORDER ACT?
ð Regulates the holding of campaign rallies and holding of public meetings to debate and contest policies and programmes.
ð Zambia Police enforces the Public Order Act.
ð ECZ has no mandate over the enforcement of the Public Order Act.