By Daniel Chigundu
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should be the only authority that issues official statements related to elections in order to minimise confusion.
The Registrar General (RG) announced that it was embarking on a mobile registration of Zimbabwean citizens starting Monday 4 September 2017 and that old metal identification cards are no longer valid for voting.
In a statement, ZESN said it is worried by the introduction of new requirements to ongoing processes adding that ZEC should take the leading role in rolling out of the processes
“ZESN is concerned by the lack of adequate education and sensitization of citizens prior to the rolling out of this exercise; which has only been publicized less than a week before the process begins.
“ZESN appreciates the efforts of the RG’s office to facilitate the acquisition of National Identity Documents (IDs) in preparation of the voter registration process; however ZESN recommends that ZEC be the only authority that makes official pronouncements on electoral processes to minimize confusion.
“For instance, the RG’s pronouncements regarding whether citizens classified as Aliens will be allowed to register and vote in 2018 are contrary to the pronouncements made earlier by ZEC Chairperson who said that the so called Aliens are eligible to vote,” read the ZESN statement.
On most occasions ZEC has taken long to respond to important issues that are related to 2018 elections and the BVR kits, leaving it to speculation.
The election watchdog added that the announcement by the RG’s office that old metal identity cards will not be accepted for voting as they are not machine readable will result in people being disenfranchised from taking part in elections.
“ZESN notes that this may lead to the disenfranchisement of a significant number of citizens who may not be able to replace the identity documents in time to meet the timelines of the BVR exercise. In addition, introducing too many new requirements to an ongoing process without adequate publicity may have a negative impact voter confidence as they will be unclear as to requirements for each process.
“We, therefore, call for the synchronization of the processes as the case with other jurisdictions whereby mobile issuance of identity documents runs concurrently with the voter registration exercise to avoid unnecessary confusion to the voters as some may think that this process is the BVR since the RGs process also requires taking photographs and finger prints,” said the statement.
According to ZESN, the requirement for replacement of metal IDs should have been made known and the service made available to the electorate much earlier.
ZESN said information availed by the RG’s office as reported is vague as on additional requirements need to get a replacement of the IDs, adding that more comprehensive information specifying whether the replacements will be made at a cost or not is needed.
Meanwhile, ZESN has requested ZEC to provide information to the public on its position regarding these developments about Aliens and the use of metal IDs given that they have a direct impact on the voter registration process, which the Commission is about to embark on in a few weeks’ time.