The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has partnered with mobile operators MTN, Airtel and Zamtel to create an SMS system through which voters can check their registration status. ECZ Chairperson Judge Essau Chuulu has confirmed in a statement to IT Web Africa that voters will be able to check their voter registration status through this SMS facility starting in May 2016.
There was speculation that the Zambian Information and Communications Technology Authority was also a part of the SMS check facility but in an official statement they have denied these claims, with ZICTA Public Relations Manager Ngabo Nankonde saying:
ZICTA has no role in development or managing of any mechanism for transmission of election results. As an ICT regulator, ZICTA regulates the mobile phone service providers through licensing. The mobile service providers are the custodians of their respective subscriber databases and not ZICTA. The Authority does not own any communication network platform for voice and/or SMS.
To this effect, the voters’ register verification done through SMS is based on a commercial agreement between the mobile service providers and their respective clients. The Authority is not privy to such agreements but only grants approval of the short code for businesses to use the Mobile platform for marketing purposes and information dissemination.
As an example, pupils today are able to access examination results through SMS platform using a USSDshort code. This does not mean that ZICTA has access to the database of examination results, but coming from a private agreement between the Examination Council of Zambia and the mobile service providers.
ZICTA’s role is to create an enabling environment and ICT innovations where it becomes easier for businesses and consumers to do business and interact through ICTs.
There were concerns that if ZICTA was involved, there could be a possible manipulation of the information being sent out.