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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Crisis Report - Issue 206
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    August 01, 2013

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    Voters roll: mixed bag of pleasant and un-pleasant surprises

    The late delivery of a surprise voters’ roll which many electoral stakeholders encountered for the first time at polling stations in Zimbabwe’s 31 July vote yielded a number of surprises, mostly negative, but with some silver linings.

    The “new, consolidated roll” came to be used with very few of the queries that were raised in its earlier version actually addressed. These include the issue of ghost voters, and the presence on the roll of thousands of centurions in a country with a life expectancy of less than 50.

    In addition to the above stated discrepancies which are reported to still abound, there also bad surprises in store for some voters, who either found themselves completely missing from the roll, or relocated to constituencies and wards they have not previously voted in. Unlike first time voters or recent transfers who could then vote using their slips, people previously on the roll who found themselves removed, did not have any recourse but to give up their franchise because of the unexplained disappearances.

    Some pleasant surprises….for “aliens”

    However, the roll had a few pleasant surprises, with some people who have never registered or had failed to do so, getting information and confirmations that they actually were on the roll. Amongst these were a substantial number of Zimbabweans of foreign decent, who got the surprise of their lives when they visited polling stations either to cast their vote or check on their possibility to vote.

    Though some were turned away, It is reported that some were allowed to vote, while others were thoroughly shocked to find their names on the voters’ roll following their removal in 2008.

    On 22 May 2013, following the President Robert Mugabe’s signing of the new constitution Zimbabweans who were formerly regarded as ‘aliens’ celebrated section 36 of the Constitution which states that a person is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth if the person was born in Zimbabwe and when he or she was born either their father or mother was a Zimbabwean citizen or any of that persons grandparents was a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or registration.

    This section enables persons previously categorised as aliens to regularise their citizenship in accordance with the new Constitution in order to enjoy the full benefits of being a citizen including the right to vote.

    The word “alien” was introduced into regular use after the amendment of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act (Chapter 4.1) in 2002 resulting in many people losing Zimbabwean citizenship despite that in many cases they were Zimbabweans by birth and Zimbabwe was the only home they knew.

    In an interview with Crisis Report Team, Collen Tembo, 25, who was unable to vote during the Constitutional referendum because he was regarded as an “alien” indicated that he was very happy to be a first time voter since he didn’t manage to vote in previous elections.

    “I’m quite excited because it was my first time to vote since I wasn’t allowed in 2008. I voted well today at Belgravia Sports Club, and was serviced by electoral officials there in a professional manner. The officials there did not ask me any untoward questions, they just went about their roles, facilitating my franchise. The process was fast and for the first time in while, I stopped feeling like I didn’t belong, like an ‘alien’, but like a full Zimbabwean. I will always cherish and really do appreciate that I got this opportunity to register and actually vote,” said Tembo.

    As a result of long disenfranchisement since 2002 Zimbabweans of foreign decent did not participate much in national process and even faced difficulties in obtaining national identity documents. When they did get the national documents, they were branded with a big ‘A’ for alien, rather than the watermarked ‘C’ for citizen, perpetuating a Zimbabwean variant of the cast system.

    My husband and I were not on the online voters’ roll and we were not allowed to vote in 2008, when our names had been removed from the voters’ role. So my husband took a stroll to our polling station (Eastridge School) this morning and decided to check. Just in case. His name and mine were both on the list and he was allowed to VOTE!!! I'm about to go now and stand in the queue. So please post and encourage 'aliens' to take the chance and go and check,” said one citizen who inboxed the Crisis Coalition on their Facebook page.

    As mentioned above, it was not all former ‘aliens’ who had this good streak of luck. The NewsDay at 1500 hours, on election day, reported via Twitter, that most of the people who were turned away from Mai Musodzi Hall , in Mbare constituency were former ‘aliens’.

    A group of aliens at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare told NewsDay they constituted the bulk of people who were turned away #ZimDecides13,” from a NewsDay tweet update.

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