Modern information technology should be used in updating the national population to capture huge volumes of data within a short period to be used in the 2016 referendum, says Young Africa Leaders Initiative governance director, Isaac Mwanza.
He said it was gratifying that the Government had declared that the referendum would be held in 2016.
Mr Mwanza, however, said it would be helpful to consider using digital and modern IT solutions to conduct an efficient, fast and result-oriented population census to determine the correct number of persons to be included in the voter register.
“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 as 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,” he said.
Mr Mwanza said the Zambian Government would be assured of the census being concluded within the shortest possible time if they agreed to use the digital system, especially if they set aside resources and personnel for the exercise.
He said in preparation for either a sample or full population census, there was need to call on Government to urgently consider using the digital means of capturing information that would allow state agencies such as the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), National Registration Office (NRC) department and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to access personal data such as date of births and certificates, national identity cards and passports at the click of a button.
Mr Mwanza alluded to other African countries such as Kenya which have already started modernising their national data collection system where President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday last week, launched the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS), which gives access to an individual’s entire registration and identification records using a single personal identification number.
“YALI believes Government has taken adequate time to study what citizens, stakeholders and interest groups had to say on both the Government draft roadmap and the holding of a successful referendum and it is our collective responsibility 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,” he said. He said with the remaining time to 2016, the youth organization remained confident of a successful referendum and have called on stakeholders to work together to ensure the 50 percent turnout was achieved.