Article 76 (1) of the Constitution establishes an Electoral Commission for Zambia. It consists of five Commissioners appointed by the State President. The procedure for the appointment of the Commissioners is laid done in the Electoral Act No. 24 of 1996. The President appoints the chairperson and the other four Commissioners, and these have to be ratified by the National Assembly. The Commission is full-time.
The Commission’s independence is expressly guaranteed in the Constitution and in the Electoral Act. The latter provides that in the exercise of its functions, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority. The Commission is accountable to Parliament.
The Commissions employs its own staff and has hitherto been able to engage a reliable team of professional, experienced and committed staff able to meet the challenges of election management.
The functions and powers of the Commission are provided for the in the Constitution, the Electoral Act and other related statues and include:
To supervise and conduct the registration of voters;
To conduct and supervise Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections;
To review the delimitation of constituency, ward and polling district boundaries;
To supervise referendums;
To provide electoral information and voter education to members of the public and the electorate on the various phases/stages of the electoral process and elections;
To formulate and review election general regulations; and
To perform any other function the National Assembly may call it to undertake.
The Commission prepares its own budget and presents it to Parliament. However the Ministry of Finance and National Planning disburses and monitors the funds allocated to the Commission. While this system allows for accountability, it hampers the Commission’s efficiency in discharging its administrative functions as funds are disbursed intermittently and at times when the Commission requires funds, the Treasury does not have adequate funds to meet the Commission’s immediate requirements.