Lusaka, 03 August, 2021: Three civil society organisations and a technology hub have partnered to roll out a new technology based initiative aimed at facilitating citizens use of information and communication technologies to advance electoral accountability, with a focus on monitoring the Zambian General Elections scheduled for 12 August 2021.
Dubbed “Citizens advancing electoral accountability in Zambia”, the project is implemented by Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) in collaboration with the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) and mHub of Malawi, through financial support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). The Non Governmental Gender Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is also part of the initiative, with a specific focus on gender equality and women’s rights.
The Ziko Lathu initiative seeks to facilitate citizens’ access to and use of information and communication technologies to monitor the upcoming Presidential and general elections in Zambia through engagements with various media institutions, among them community radio stations to sensitize citizens about transparency and accountability in elections, as well as the role of citizens in fostering electoral accountability.
The project is responding to the fact that the credibility of any electoral process is determined by the level of acceptability of the electoral outcomes by many stakeholders and how free, fair and peaceful the various electoral activities were conducted. Political tolerance, social cohesion, access to electoral information, transparency and accountability in electoral management as well as the inclusion of marginalized segments of the voter population also influence the credibility of the election. All this is better assessed and evaluated with the involvement of independent election observers and monitors.
The project also seeks to enhance and strengthen multi-level coordination of the electorate, the media, the civil society organisations and various electoral stakeholders to generate, share and use timely, relevant and accurate electoral information to facilitate speedy resolutions of electoral issues at all levels in a manner that will ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible, and transparent elections in Zambia on 12 August 2021.
The project is working with the electorate, community journalists, political parties, the election management bodies and support groups as well as the broader media to monitor the conduct of elections and to sensitise citizens on the project’s existence and their role.
The project has developed and deployed a mobile web-based technology platform through which citizens will engage with various electoral stakeholders and submit reports on various aspects in the electoral process and service delivery post elections for the attention of election management bodies and their elected duty bearers respectively. The web based platform is accessible on www.zikolathu.org, while citizens can send SMSs to +260762974750 (MTN), +26095472938 (Zamtel), and +260779768223 (Airtel).
Other activities under this project will include training and deployment of community and mainstream journalists to collect, process and share information for the platform as well as sensitising citizens on the use of the platform and other ICTs in observing and monitoring the electoral cycle activities to facilitate real time engagement with stakeholders and duty bearers and timely reporting of issues in the electoral process.
We are confident that the interventions being implemented under this project will create an environment in which ordinary citizens, including groups with special needs such as persons with disability participate in ensuring free, fair and credible elections, and in turn strengthen the principles of democracy, which is what we wish to see in the upcoming elections in Zambia. We are confident that the Ziko Lathu platform will contribute to real time submission and analysis of information on all aspects that constitute a free, fair and credible election in a manner that will timely operational responses by electoral stakeholders.
Vusumuzi Sifile, Executive Director of Panos Institute Southern Africa
/for and on behalf of the Ziko Lathu Consortium comprising: