We requested that July 26 be made a holiday – Chipenzi

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Electoral expert MacDonald Chipenzi has revealed that his organisation had written to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to consider putting 26th July 2018 as a holiday.

President Lungu yesterday declared Thursday, 26th July 2018 a public holiday to enable the people in Lusaka and other areas vote in local government by-elections.

Chipenzi who is executive director of Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative says his organisation thanks the Head of State for having considered their request.

Below is his statement:

July 26, 2018 Electoral Holiday Welcome

The declaration of 26 July, 2018 as a public holiday by President Edgar Lungu is a very welcome decision.

Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative would want to commend both President Lungu and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for considering GEARS Initiative ’s earlier request through a letter to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to consider this day a public holiday.

Considering the widespread of the bye elections being held on 26 July, 2018, the large portion of the voting population about 1milion to be involved, it would have been difficult for them to turn out to vote if the day was not declared a public holiday.

It must be noted that, Lusaka Urban district alone has about over 800,000 registered voters in the seven (7) constituencies expected to vote and most of them are in the working class category.

This Lusaka voting population is in addition to the other seven newly created districts in Eastern Province and Chilanga district coupled with several wards dotted across the nation.

Therefore, not declaring this day a public holiday would have disfranchised many of the electorates whose employers would not have allowed them to skip work in order for these workers to participate in a vote and exercise their franchise

In this regard, the electorate living in these districts and wards holding the bye-elections have no reason not to participate in the vote with the declaration in place.

We expect high turnout on 26 July, 2018 in view of the holiday and joint efforts between PF and UPND to end electoral and political violence ahead of the bye-elections.

The presidential declaration is, therefore, welcome and GEARS considers it a right move in respecting citizens’ rights to a vote and choice and in growing our electoral democracy.

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31