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in mobile voter registration
National Youth Development Trust
May 07, 2013
Youth Development Trust notes with concern the challenges facing
the current mobile voter
registration exercise by the Registrar General’ office.
The process has so far been marred with confusion, with the deployed
officials indicating lack of clarity on their mandate and therefore
denying critical service to some citizens. The following are some
of the issues that have been noted:
and closing times
In some areas
the officials from the Registrar General’s office have failed
to open and close mobile registration centres at stipulated times.
For instance, operating times are from 7am to 7 pm but in Bulawayo
the team has been starting around 9am and closing at 5pm, depriving
residents of at least 4 hours of service.
with regards to mandate
Some teams revealed
uncertainty on what exactly their mandate is. In Bulawayo, Sizinda
hall in particular, the team initially claimed that it was only
mandated to do voter inspection and not registration and referred
those intending to register to the provincial offices or other satellite
offices in Bulawayo. Voter registration began later in the day after
a number of people; mostly youths, had been frustrated and left.
Such a delay in starting and lack of clear instructions by the registry
teams affected the process, especially considering that they were
only at Sizinda Hall for one day.
has also been tarnished by logistical challenges. In some cases
the advertised venues would have been previously booked by other
organisations or churches. This case of Double booking shows that
the Registrar General’s office did not bother checking the
availability of advertised venues before allocating them to the
process. For example, in Sizinda, the voter registration process
had to run concurrently with a church service at the hall. Some
residents complained that they did not utilise the service because
they thought that the officials didn’t come since they could
only see more people who had come to attend church.
Proof of residence
still remains a problematic requirement when it comes to the voter
registration process. There seems to be no clear definition of what
can be accepted as proof or residence. This leaves the prerogative
of deciding what is or not proof of residence on the officer attending
to residents. As a result one person can be turned away for bringing
a cellphone line certificate as proof of residence and the next
person is registered using the same document. This has resulted
in a lot of people being turned away and failing to register.
Instead of having
multiple teams stationed in different areas as was expected, there
is only one team which is being seen operating in Bulawayo. This
means that the same people presiding over the inspection of the
voters roll are the same who are supposed to assist people intending
to register as voters or needing help with Identity documents. This
tends to slow down the process thus reducing the number of people
who can be attended to on a single day. Evidently this is a challenge
considering that the service is only available for one day in some
areas. Having one team being operational also means that it will
not be able to cover all areas within the stipulated time frames.
This has resulted in them choosing to be available in some areas
and not others. This means that some citizens will be deprived of
absence of the Zimbabwe electoral commission to monitor and even
assist the process on the ground is another cause for concern. ZEC
officials have highlighted that they have no budget to monitor the
process or to be a part of it since all the resources were directed
to the Registrar General’s office. This raises questions on
why the government continues to fund the administrative arm of the
process while neglecting the body that is responsible for the voters
roll. Some residents, especially in Mabuthweni, highlighted that
the presence of ZEC was going to help in dealing with the unfriendly
and intimidating conduct of Registry staff who are keen on turning
away people without proper explanations.
publicity of the exercise
The mobile voter
registration exercise which began on Monday April 29, 2013 was only
advertised in some newspapers on Saturday May 4, 2013, 5 days after
the process had already begun. Apart from being publicized late,
the method of publicity used is very exclusive. Very few Zimbabweans,
specifically young people, have access to newspapers. More needs
to be done to ensure that people are made aware of the exercise
so that they can benefit from it. It is also interesting to note
that the exercise is not even publicized in the Office of the Registrar
General’s official website.
distribution of centres
of centres for the mobile voter registration process seems to favour
some constituencies. Throughout the whole of Matabeleland, there
are some constituencies and districts that have more centres than
others and one wonders why it is so. For example both Bubi and Mguza
constituencies have 19 centres each and yet Tsholotsho North and
South are sharing only 11 Centres and Lupane East and West are sharing
only 15 Centres. This shows that the allocation of centres was done
by officials who were either ignorant or chose to ignore the sizes
of various constituencies. The net effect of this has been that
in most rural areas in Matabeleland people still have to travel
a distance of more than 15km to get to the nearest mobile registration
centre. This, combined with the poor administration and publicity
of the process, means that more people resident away from the designated
centres will remain unaware of the process until it comes to an
up of Voter’s roll
Given the recent
claims that at least one million deceased people were removed from
the Voter’s roll, there is need for the office of the registrar
General to clarify if their teams are going to the communities with
an updated voters roll or not. For a long time the said office has
claimed that it can only remove the dead from the voter’s
roll if a family member approaches them to notify them of such.
Given the fact that it is not possible for a million families to
have suddenly approached registry to remove these names, there are
concerns that some names of living individuals may have been struck
out of the voter’s roll without them knowing hence the need
for the teams to have an updated roll.
In light of
the concerns noted above, the NYDT advises that:
- The Registrar
General’s office ensures that their officers stick to stipulated
operating times in order to provide adequate service to the residents.
- That the
officers tasked to conduct the mobile registration process be
fully aware of their mandate to avoid confusion and time wasting.
- That the
administration of the exercise be treated with the seriousness
it deserves and that the relevant office checks availability of
venues before they are selected and publicised.
- There is
also a need for the relaxation of the restrictive requirement
of proof of residence by accepting a variety of forms of documentation
that could serve as proof of residence. This will allow more Zimbabweans
to be able to register.
- More teams
need to be deployed to allow the process to reach out to as many
Zimbabweans as possible. As such there is need for the registry
to partner with ZEC in the current exercise to allow for more
- The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission needs to be visible on the ground to publicise
and monitor the exercise, while giving out as much relevant information
to the citizens as possible. This will greatly reduce the number
of people being turned away while at the same time drawing more
people to be part of the exercise.
- The publicity
strategy of the exercise needs to be inclusive, mass based and
accessible. As such, the use of regular notifications on various
radio stations, posters, information fliers and social media can
be part of the strategy.
- To allow
the process to be more accessible, the polling stations used at
the referendum could have been used as registration centres.
- The Registrar
General’s office and the Zimbabwe electoral commission need
to ensure that enough information on the requirements is distributed
and desist from asking for additional requirements when people
are already at the registration centres.
- There is
also a need for all the mobile registration exercises to be a
one stop centre for all the services offered by the registrar
general’s office that have a direct bearing on the voter
It is the hope
of the NYDT that the above concerns will be taken up, recommendations
made considered and due action be taken to allow the citizens of
Zimbabwe to have access to exercising their democratic right to
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