By Nkanyiso Ncube
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC-T) has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to scrap the proof of resident requirement for prospective voters before the new voter registration exercise begins.
The call comes following a media report suggesting that prospective voters were required to produce physical proof of permanent residence for eligibility to register to vote, a shift from an earlier proposal that sought to enlist voters on the roll without producing residency documentation.
In a statement MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said ZEC should immediately recall the draft Statutory Instrument (SI) that will make it mandatory for all prospective voters to produce proof of residence.
“A democratic, free and fair election entails that all eligible voters, without exception, are not deliberately and/or unnecessarily disenfranchised through a cumbersome and difficult process of registering as voters.
“As such, ZEC should immediately recall the draft SI that will make it mandatory for all prospective voters to produce proof of residence. It is a fact that the majority of urban dwellers are lodgers and tenants who will not easily have access to proof of residence such as utility bills etc,” he said.
ZEC is preparing to start the Biometric Voter Registration exercise as soon as it receives the BVR kits from the contracted Chinese company Laxton Group Systems which outclassed Germany based Dermalog Identification Systems.
However, the former legislator said the proof of resident requirement would only work to demotivate and make it difficult for most people to register to vote for the 2018 general elections.
“We are acutely aware of the fact that the Zanu PF regime is already sensing a crushing and humiliating defeat in next year’s elections and as such, they are trying to influence ZEC to make it extremely difficult for most people to register to vote. It is trite that dictatorships thrive on voter apathy as well as on voter demotivation and intimidation.”
Gutu said his party had written to ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau requesting that people be allowed to register as long as they can affirm their places of residence during the time of registration.
“For the record, the MDC would like to state that it is one of the several stakeholders that strenuously argued against the planned move to make it mandatory for people to produce written proof of residence before they can be permitted to register as voters. In fact, the party wrote a letter to the ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau, on April 20, 2017, making our party position on this crucial issue abundantly clear.
“We advocate for a system whereby people must be allowed to register as voters as long as they can affirm their places of residence during the voter registration exercise,” he said