By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
ZimRights says it is concerned that challenges observed during the biometric voter registration (BVR) pilot exercise might result in voter apathy as some people will fail to register.
As Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) prepares for the voter registration blitz exercise scheduled to start on the 10th of October, the rights watchdog says it is worried that the slow pace of registration might work as a deterrent factor to prospective voters.
“The pace at which voter registration has been happening was slow at some of the registration centres. As a result, people would wait the whole day. In some cases, those frustrated at the pace of the registration exercise ended up going back home,” ZimRights said.
ZimRights added that it also noted the lack of signage at some registration centres which meant people could not easily locate then and recommends that in addition to dissemination of BVR information and voter education material, all centres should have adequate signage.
Another worrying issue identified by ZimRights was that of the proof of residence requirements to which most citizens preferred to use the V1 and V2 forms.
However, at times the stationery was inadequate and even the commissioners of oath were not readily available at centres leaving citizens with no option but to photocopy the forms using their own money.
“Some registration centres did not have the stationery and people had to photocopy them (V1 and V2 forms) on their own and also pay the commissioner of oaths.
“These costs incurred by the citizens in a difficult economic situation in Zimbabwe can be prohibitive to prospective voters.
“There is still need for all stakeholders to step up the information campaign to assist people with enough information on the dates, venues and requirements for the BVR registration,” said ZimRights.
Meanwhile, ZimRights has said transparency with regards to the storage and location of BVR servers is important as it will go a long way in inspiring citizens’ confidence in the process.