United Nations (UN) has handed over a total amount of K17.4 million to 18 Civil Society Organizations Ahead of the 12 August polls.
The funds are meant to capacitate the organizations to promote Voter Education and Stakeholder Engagement to increase the participation of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities in Zambia ahead of the polls.
The grants also aim to benefit other categories of voters such as Persons in Lawful Custody (PLCs), first time voters and rural or hard-to-reach voters in the context of the 2021 General Election and beyond.
ZANIS reports UN Resident Coordinator Coumba Mar Gadio who revealed this at a meeting said the project dubbed “ Democracy Strengthening in Zambia (DSZ) “ is a multi-year Multi-donor basket fund to be implemented between 2020 and 2022.
Stressing that the project aims at encouraging electoral transparency, inclusion, accountability, integrity and peace, Dr Mar Gadio said the project also seeks to strengthen institutions of democracy like the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Zambia Police Service.
“The UN’s vision through this project is to support elections which are democratic and credible as well as elections whose outcomes which enjoy stakeholder trust and confidence and also widespread legitimacy,” he said.
And British High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Wooley said his government fully supports the programme as it is in line with the UK’s resolve to back Zambia’s democratic process.
Mr Wooley who also underscored the importance of civil society organizations in Zambia’s democratic process emphasised that the electorate need to be educated on the process by the organizations.
“Voters need to understand and know their responsibilities, the importance of their vote and knowing the choices before them when they cast
their votes,” he said.
And the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Chief Electoral Officer Patrick Nshindano emphasized the need for an inclusive electoral process.
Mr Nshindano expressed hope that the beneficiaries of the funds will add value to the country’s democratic process.
Meanwhile the ECZ’s CEO said he expects that the misinformation peddled during the electoral process will be a thing of the past with the launch of the grants to the civil society organizations.
As a commission we have observed a lot of misinformation including from established civil society organizations and such partnerships will be able to bridge that gap,” Mr Nshindano said. And in speech read for her by Director Governance Yengwe Kakusa , Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Thandiwe Oteng urged the organizations to put the funds to good use.