CCMG is deeply concerned with reports of mobile issuance of National Registration Cards (NRC) exercises currently taking place in some parts of Eastern, Northern, Luapula, North Western and Muchinga Provinces. We have monitored this situation since the first allegations were made and has, through its monitors, confirmed that mobile issuance of NRC cards is underway in these provinces. The Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed that they have been conducting mobile NRC issuance in selected districts of the said provinces, through the district registration offices.
CCMG notes that issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs) is provided for under the National Registration Act Chapter 126 of The Laws of Zambia and is carried out every day at the district offices. However, CCMG notes that mobile issuance of NRC cards, with the aim of increasing the participation of citizens in obtaining this important document, is a critical exercise which must be done in such a way as to provide equal opportunity to all Zambians. CCMG further notes the critical nature of obtaining an NRC in order to register to vote, and that mobile issuance of NRCs should be done in coordination with other stakeholders, including the Electoral Commission of Zambia, and with broad public engagement to provide for transparent, credible and accountable electoral processes in Zambia.
While CCMG is cognizant of the fact that the National Registration Act under Section 14 does provide regulations for registration and the Minister is empowered to implement registration activities such as mobile NRC issuance. CCMG notes with concern that such powers are left to the discretion of the Minister without clear guidelines on: publication of such regulation; comprehensive publicity of the road map for the implementation of mobile NRC issuance, the engagement of relevant stakeholders in the implementation of mobile NRC issuance, publication on projected target populations; and publication of the budget involved in such an undertaking.
CCMG strongly feels that the information above is critical to ensuring transparency and credibility of the exercise, especially where the exercise is done for the sake of elections. CCMG notes that in previous mobile NRC issuance, the schedules for issuance were made available to stakeholders and the general public. It is CCMG’s considered view that the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Department of National Registration, Passports and Citizenship is currently implementing mobile NRC issuance without the consultation or notification of stakeholders or the public. This is in direct contravention of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ duty to serve the public, provide and maintain internal security and promote sustainable socio-economic development for the people of Zambia. On December 16, CCMG wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting information and clarification on the mobile NRC issuance and is yet to receive a response.
CCMG believes that the mobile issuance of NRCs is an important part of the electoral process and a critical exercise for enhancing democratic participation. Therefore, transparency, consultation and public awareness around the effort to promote high participation nationwide remains critical. Failure for the mobile NRC issuance exercise to provide equal opportunity for all Zambians to obtain an NRC risks undermining their ability and fundamental right to engage in political and electoral processes, including voter registration.
CCMG demands that the Ministry release to stakeholders and the general public all the information about mobile issuance of NRCs, including the deployment schedule, Ministry’s plans for the extension of the exercise to all provinces, and the Ministry’s intended stakeholder consultations on the issue. Further, CCMG demands that the Ministry immediately halts the process until such a time when there is a clear roadmap or deployment schedule, adequate publicity, publicly available targeted populations, and engagement with stakeholders.