Dear Editor,

THE first phase of the voter registration process has now been rolled out to all areas with a few challenges. The response from the people is encouraging as it shows how informed Zambians are on their rights and responsibilities to take part in public affairs.
There are reports that some people using the name of the party have illegally and forcibly taken over the voter registration centres. We have been with a number of party officials and they have expressed ignorance authorising any members to take over the registration centres.
Clearly, this development shows that individuals masquerading as party members are not legitimate at all but just in the habit of using the name of the party to get away with criminal acts.
While their motive is unknown, we wish to remind followers of public affairs that PF under President Edgar Lungu has promoted institutional independence of the institutions of governance and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is not an exception.
While it is in the interest of political players to safeguard their interests, such interests should not undermine the institutional independence and values of the ECZ. If need be, there are procedures of accrediting or seconding of the stakeholders if they wish to take part in the process.
We are not aware whether there is any directive from the chain of command to authorise political actors to assume the role of the ECZ. President Lungu continues to show his commitment to promote free and fair elections.
Therefore such irrational behaviour by some criminally-minded individuals using the name of the party is utmost falsehood and disproportionate to the efforts made by the President.
We therefore urge the public to be alert for such individuals and they can effect a citizen’s arrest on them and handover then to police. Crime knows no political affiliations.
The efforts of stakeholders should not substitute the efforts of legitimate Constitutional institutions.
We urge the police to be firm and restore law and order in the polling centres as their inactivity is aiding the negative public perception on the independence of ECZ.
Therefore, the fragrant disrespect of public institutions cannot be claimed to be part of mobilisation initiatives but an act of lawlessness which has no place in a peace loving Zambia. Moreover, the process is a nonpartisan process which should not have any place.
We have been guided by Deputy PF Secretary General Mumbi Phiri that if indeed they are PF cadres they should cease holding out themselves and hijacking the role of ECZ.
If indeed they are members, we see no reason how they would disobey lawful orders from the deputy secretary general.
We also wish to reassure Zambians that ECZ will be given the necessary space to operate freely without the unwarranted harassment from any cross section of society.
While we are disturbed by the reports from Lusaka, we urge other stakeholders such as UPND to also do their part to take their overzealous supporters within their alleged strongholds.
In the past, during the issuance of NRCs, we heard of the invasion of the centres and in some instances Government employees were harassed.
Depoliticising this is therefore a responsibility of all stakeholders. The cadres will therefore do President Lungu justice by detaching themselves from this as he has done enough home work to win a free and fair elections.

Youth Rights Activist,

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