By Tariro Daphne Senderayi
In order to register to vote in next year’s election you will need to have proof of residence. Most voters including the youth and women do not own houses they are tenants. This will largely depend on the availability of landlords and the rapport between tenant and landlord.
Women voters in the rural areas will require proof from their husbands most whose mindset if still patriarchal. There is also need for them to set aside time in their busy schedule attempting to commission the affidavit which will only frustrate them just thinking about it. It’s not gender sensitive.
A sworn or written statement by a Councillor, chief, headman or village head where one resides is reasonable. However, in practise the rural dweller is dependent on the goodwill of local leadership when registering to vote. Which is heavily biased in favour of Zanu PF supporters leaving opposition disadvantaged. This has been used by the ruling party since time immemorial as a method of gate-keeping to its greater advantage.
It is expensive to commission an affidavit for most. So it disenfranchises the poor.
It doesn’t give every eligible voter a fair chance as it limits participation. For the urban dweller, ZEC requesting an affidavit to confirm residence does not ease the process of registration but instead adds more paperwork, longer queues and ultimately obstructionism.
‘Why can’t I vote based on my being 18 and having a national ID?’ is the general outcry.
What then becomes of the homeless living in the streets? Aren’t they being disenfranchised by this requirement yet they too have the right to vote?
On the other hand, use of proof residence has some advantages:
- It maintains order when voting for Councillors and Members of Parliament. It also eases the delimitation processes.
- It causes constituency stuffing which is a type of electoral fraud where a party stuffs a constituency with supporters.
Not using the proof of residence system may make the whole process a breeding ground for multiple voting which entails a registered voter being able to vote in a ward he/she would have registered and then proceeding to another ward where he/she does not appear on the roll but vote there using the registration slip.