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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
on the mobile voter registration exercise
Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations
June 26, 2013
We the civil
society organisations in Zimbabwe would like to commend ZEC for
having rolled out the mandatory Voter registration exercise from
the 9th of June 2013.
As we prepare
for the harmonised elections we are of the view that voter registration
and inspection are essential components of an electoral cycle especially
as we head toward these watershed elections. We note the 15 June
SADC Special Summit
on Zimbabwe resolution which directed the government of Zimbabwe
to approach the constitutional court and seek an election
observed the first phase of the mobile voter registration, we raised
concerns with ZEC over a plethora of issues which needed attention.
Our view is that certain problems that bedevilled the first phase
were addressed while some of the teething issues remain prevalent
in the current 30-day voter registration and inspection exercises.
Since the beginning
of the second phase of the voter education, registration and inspection
exercise, there are issues which have consistently hampered the
effectiveness of this critical exercise. Our observations as civic
society organisations have unearthed the following concerns:
timeframes – We have noted with concern the limited timeframe
given to mobile voter registration, with the registration teams
spending 3 days to register people in 2 – 3 wards instead
of the 30 days per ward as had been promised. It has also been noted
that some advertised centres that were meant to be open were closed
earlier than the stipulated time. For instance, reports from Bulawayo
revealed that potential registrants were turned away at Lobengula
Secondary school because the ZEC officials closed the centre before
the stipulated time.
of non-state actors in the voter registration exercise. We note
with concern that despite applications for accreditation to observe
the mobile voter registration process, following an advert by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission inviting organisations seeking letters
of permission to visit mobile voter registration sites; none of
the organisations who are part of this joint statement have received
a response from ZEC regarding their applications. This limits credibility
and transparency of the mobile voter registration exercise, as civil
society is unable to play its critical watchdog role to ensure transparency
in the process.
3. Lack of sensitivity
to vulnerable groups including people living with disabilities,
pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly. There have been no
special measures observed to ease the burden of registration of
vulnerable groups, in terms of separate queues or preferential treatment
which has led to structural discrimination against vulnerable groups
in the mobile voter registration exercise.
4. Lack of access
to information on voter registration procedures and requirements.
We have observed the lack of clarity in registration requirements,
in particular, the documentation needed to register. There is no
uniformity in terms of what documentation potential voters need
to be able to register, particularly proof of residence and the
use of affidavits to provide this proof. Women and youth have been
disproportionately affected by this as the failure to produce proof
of residence has been the main reason these groups have been turned
away from the voter registration centres.
5. Slow processing
of potential voters and unprofessional conduct by voter registration
officials. We have observed the long queues to register, particularly
in the urban areas with voters indicating that they sometimes have
to wait for up to 10 hours on all the set days per ward to be registered.
There has also been no separation of voter registration and voters’
roll inspection lists, and this has further slowed the process.
Registration officials have also been observed shouting at and harassing
potential voters. For example in Harare’s Mt Pleasant suburb
the process was reported to be slow because of inadequate human
resource coupled with the bussing in of police officers to register.
disenfranchisement of Zimbabwean citizens still classified as “aliens”.
We have noted varying reasons of how the so-called aliens are being
treated one example being of Aliens who are being referred to renounce
their citizenship at a certain fee first before they register.
voter education – ZEC has deployed only two people per ward
to conduct voter education and this has compromised the reach and
quality of the education provided. In addition we have noted with
concern the recruitment of voter registration personnel who are
known political party activists, youth officers, war veterans with
known links to political parties
8. Lack of clarity
on the role of political parties in the mobile voter registration
exercise. ZEC has failed to clarify the role of political parties
in the mobile voter registration exercise.
call upon ZEC to:
accredit all civic society organisations, media and political parties
to observe and monitor the electoral process without undue restrictions.
(b) Audit the
Voters’ Roll once the registration process is completed by
the Registrar general
(c) Make available
the Updated Voters rolls before election day
(d) Ensure that
the MVR personnel stick to the ZEC manuals on voter registration
to ensure uniformity in the process.
(e) Scale up
voter education to ensure comprehensive coverage of the whole country.
The following organisations have endorsed this statement;
Election Support Network (ZESN)
in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC)
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Services Unit (CSU)
for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ)
Resource Centre (ERC)
Council of Churches (ZCC)
Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH)
National Association of Students Union (ZINASU)
11. Civic Education
Network Trust (CIVNET)
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