In Zambia Stakeholders go against plans to allow prisoners vote

Report said the announcement has been backed by the Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCCA), an organisation that fights for the rights of prisoners.

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People use a pole to batter a shop doorway during clashes with police in Lusaka April 19, 2016. play People use a pole to batter a shop doorway during clashes with police in Lusaka April 19, 2016. (REUTERS/Jean Mandela)
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Stakeholders on Monday in Lusaka, have opposed government's plans to allow prisoners to participate in this year's August 11 general election.

This is against a statement credited to the Minister of Home Affairs, Davies Mwila that all prisoners with voters' registration cards would be allowed to vote during the general election.

He said government took the decision because the law provided for the inmates to exercise their right to vote.

Report said the announcement has been backed by the Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCCA), an organisation that fights for the rights of prisoners.

Meanwhile, Dan Kalale, a former Director of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), said allowing prisoners to participate in voting would not be an easy undertaking because it poses many challenges.

He said issues on whether the electoral body would provide polling stations in prisons or whether the prisoners would be taken to polling stations outside prison should be considered before inmates are allowed to vote.

Kalale added that safe guard measures should be put in place to counter possible manipulation.

"In case this is in the amended constitution, it still doesn't sit well because ECZ doesn't seem to have taken that consideration in their preparations of August 11 event.

Macdonald Chipenzi, former Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), said the minister's directive was illegal and that the electoral body to guide the nation on the matter.

The opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) has since challenged the electoral body to issue a categorical statement stating its position on the matter with regards to the provisions of the law.

Antonio Mwanza, the Party's Spokesperson said allowing the inmates with voters' cards to vote in the forthcoming elections is illegal, unconstitutional and would not be tolerated.

She added that the Electoral Act is very clear that inmates/convicts and all those under police custody cannot be allowed to vote in the national elections.

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