Bungling Characterises Beginning of Voter Registration Exercise

By Wisdom Mumera

The ongoing voter registration exercise begun by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Monday has been characterised by inefficiencies, shoddy service and myriad bungles that may undermine the project according to an election watchdog.

The Election Resource Center (ERC) says the exercise, which follows adoption of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system as one of several electoral reforms being implemented in the country ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections, has not been conforming to the expected and stated parameters.

ERC assessed conformity on key voter registration principles namely; accessibility, inclusive, informed public, security, stakeholder participation, accountability, comprehensiveness and transparency and the results so far have proved dire for the embattled ZEC.

“According to reports received by the ERC from various voter registration centers, it took an average of 20 minutes per person.

“This is contrary to the four (4) minutes per registrant that was assured by the ZEC during various stakeholder engagements”

At Remembrance Complex in Harare, the ERC observed that by 12:45 hours, only 20 people had successfully registered as voters.

“Although it took long for citizens to get into the registration room it took an average of 20 minutes for one to complete the process. At Shashe Building in Gwanda, only 6 people had reportedly registered as voters by 12:50 hours”, it said.

They have also been incidents of potential voters being turned away due to insufficient documentation for proof of residence and absence of Commissioner of Oaths at various registration centers

According to the ERC five (5) people were turned away at Remembrance Complex in Harare, for failure to produce proof of residence.

“Further, the absence of a Commissioner of Oath at some of the voter registration centers exacerbated the situation as turned away potential registrants had to look for a Commissioner of Oaths somewhere else”, it added.

Some centres have also been reported to be opening later than stated all of which could result in the registration of fewer people than expected per day.

In its notice ZEC indicated that registration centres will be open between 08:00 and 16:45 hours.

In a further loss of points for ZEC some registration centers have been noted to be too far from the citizens the registration Centre for Sanyati in Mashonaland West province located in Kadoma, more than 70 km away.

Some of the advertised places for registration of voters are not where ZEC stated with a registration centre in Lupane situated at Gain Supermarket not Multipurpose Hall, Kusile Rural District Council Offices, Lupane as advertised by ZEC (The Herald, 16 September 2017).

ZEC has been under pressure to deliver a professional job in the registration of voters and conduct of elections with fears that it has been captured by ZANU PF.

The visit by ZEC Chairperson Rita Makarau to President Mugabe’s residence to have him register drew a lot of criticism with some opposition candidates labelling it a sign of the skewed field ahead of the elections.