Parliament Approves 2018 Budget for ECZ

In November, 2017 Parliament approved the 2018 budget of 95.5 Million Kwacha for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to enable the Commission undertake nine key statutory functions, among them the delimitation of electoral boundaries in preparation for voter registration prior to the 2021 General Elections. Submitting the 2018 budget estimate for the Commission to the house, Vice President Mrs Inonge Wina, said the year 2018 would be a watershed year for the Commission because it would commence preparations for the 2021 General Elections, delimitation of electoral boundaries and voter registration. The Vice President quoted the vision of the Commission, which is “To become a model electoral management body that meets the aspirations of the Zambian people,'' adding that this gave staff of the Commission a clear vision to strive towards, thus increasing their commitment to achieving the Commission's objectives. “The electoral legislation provides a framework within which the Commission's policies are made and programmes and activities carried out to enrich and further strengthen the electoral process, thereby contributing to the enhancement of democratic governance of the country. Furthermore, it provides a clear sense of direction and responsibility for the Commission to all stakeholders in the electoral process,” she explained. Mrs Wina stated that the programmes in the budget were in conformity with the mission of the Commission and would be undertaken under the powers provided for it in the existing laws of the country. The Electoral Commission Act No. 25 of 2016 provides for the composition and operations of the Commission, while the Electoral Process Act No 35 of 2016 provides a comprehensive process for the general elections, conduct of elections and empowers the ECZ to make electoral regulations. And in supporting the motion to approve the budget of the Commission, Mr Misheck Mutelo UPND Member of Parliament for Mitete, called on the Commission to always uphold integrity when discharging its responsibilities to ensure that peace prevailed in the country. ''As I support this vault the people with responsibility of any country Zambia inclusive must be above board,” he advised. In contributing to the debate on the approval of the Commission's budget Ms. Patricia Mwanachingwele, UPND Member of Parliament for Katuba, supported the delimitation of big constituencies such as Gwembe, Katuba, and Kasempa in 2018 to improve the management of the constituencies. She also urged Government to fill the vacant positions at the Commission so as to have a complete Commission to enhance its operations. In response to the debate the Vice President said the ECZ had engaged all political players and independent observers to witness the electoral cycle in order to enhance credibility of the electoral process and had made huge strides to reduce the time it took to announce the results. She urged stakeholders to be good sportsmen and sportswomen and accept the results as there could only be one winner and one loser. “So when people lose they tend to be a lot of crying and complaining; and when the concerns are genuine we have the Constitutional Court that will look at these issues,” Mrs Wina elaborated. Regarding the delimitation programme the Vice President said the ECZ would address this as and when they saw it fit, adding that the process for filling vacancies at the Commission that had been raised by the Member of Parliament for Katuba would be done in the shortest possible time.