Successful voter registration: what ZEC needs to do?

By Nkanyiso Ncube

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says it is concerned by how the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has handled the voter registration exercise which began on Monday this week.

In a statement, the election watchdog said there was lack of consistency in the opening time at the various ZEC district offices and staff shortages.

“ZESN observers have reported discrepancies in the days that the centres started registration and also the times that the centres are open. It appears that the ZEC officials manning the registration centres are also the same officials conducting the ongoing training for provincial registration officers,” said the statement.

Since Monday, there have been complaints from members of the public on the slowness of the registration process which at least takes about 20 minutes to complete.

ZESN which is also observing the registration exercise across the country, bemoaned lack of communication by ZEC on the voter registration centres, adding that most people are not aware of the locations.

“It would have been prudent for the proclamation to be preceded by effective voter education, for instance, informing the public about the location of the voter registration centres. Communication regarding registration forms and proof of residence seems rather poor.

“It has so far been observed that registrants are being told about the process at the point of registration, for example, that the form needs to be signed by a commissioner of oaths. The public also needs to know when the rest of the BVR kits will be deployed to the wards,” said the ZESN statement.

Meanwhile, MDC-T has echoed the same sentiments calling on ZEC to speed up the registration process as it has been painstakingly slow and thoroughly inefficient.

“For instance, at Remembrance Drive district offices in Mbare, Harare, hundreds of aspiring voters had turned up as early as 6am on Wednesday morning, September 20, 2017. However, by mid-day, less than 50 people had been able to register as voters.

“The MDC calls upon ZEC to urgently and immediately up their game if the BVR system is to be a success. Only one BVR machine is being used at each and every registration centre and of course, this has caused unnecessary delays in the voter registration exercise,” said MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu.

MDC-T demanded the shipping of the remaining 2600 BVR kits as a matter of emergency.

“We, therefore, demand that the remaining 2600 BVR kits that are still to be delivered to ZEC by Laxton Group Limited be shipped to Zimbabwe as a matter of extreme urgency.

“In addition, the MDC also demands full details, chapter and verse, of the company that is supplying the central computer system that is being used for the BVR system. This information is essential in order to give credibility to the whole BVR system,” he said.

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