Tuesday, 17 March 2015

YALI Proposes Digitalising Census Ahead Of Referendum

By Paul Shalala
Isaac Mwanza

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has proposed the use of digital equipment to conduct a snap census before the referendum to adopt the new constitution is conducted. 

YALI Governance Advisor Isaac Mwanza saying using the digital system as implemented in Kenya, will save money and time.

Mr Mwanza adds that it will also help law enforcement agencies and the Electoral Commission of Zambia to have access to population data that they can use in future.

Below is a full press statement:

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is pleased with Government announcement that the Referendum will be held in 2016 and now wish to call on Government to consider using the Digital and IT solution to conduct an efficient, fast and result oriented population census that will determine the accurate number of persons entitled be registered as voters in Zambia. 

Because we have also been worried about the issue of conducting the Census and updating the voters register, we have decided to support calls to use Digital and modern information technology (IT) solutions to conduct the Census. 

YALI is aware that citizens have been discussing possibilities of using IT solutions to conduct the Census and we call on Government to explore this possibility and engage citizens to conduct a Census using the Digital system as opposed to the current situation where data on Zambians and non - Zambians is contained in manual systems maintained by different institutions such the the Department of National Registration, Electoral Commission of Zambia and Immigration Department with Central Statistical Office not having the actual personal details of persons linked to their data. 

As an organisation we implore President Edgar Lungu and his administration to emulate the Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, who on Wednesday last week, launched the Integrated Population Registration System ( IPRS), which allows access to an individual's entire registration and identification records using a single personal identification number. 

If the Zambian Government agrees to use modern IT solutions to conduct the Census, Zambians can be assured of the census being concluded within the shortest possible time, if resources are available and teams assembled. In preparation for either a sample or full population census, we urgently call on Government to consider using the Digital means of capaturing information that will allow all State Agencies such as ECZ, NRC Department and CSO to have access to huge volumes of data such as birth of births and certificates, national identity cards, passports at the click of a button. 

YALI believes that Zambian has qualified young people who can transform the way we collect information on the population using IT solutions that will benefit the nation and all State agencies in the long run. 

We are aware the Ministry of Justice has proposal to use the IT solution to conduct the Census in readiness for the Referendum and we call upon the Ministry to show responsiveness to such a proposal by engaging its designers and other institutions under the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

YALI believes Government has taken enough time to study what citizens, stakeholders and interest groups had to say on both the Government draft roadmap and the holding of a a successful referendum and it is our collective resposibility as a nation to ensure measures are put in place for conducting a national census to determine the accurate minimum threshold of voters that must turn up and vote in the referendum. 

Looking at the remaining timeframe before 2016, YALI remains cautiously optimistic on the success of the referendum. We however believe tha all stakeholders must work together to ensure the 50 percent turnout is achieved.

Issac Mwanza
YALI Governance Advisor

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