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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Statement regarding voter registration exercise and the new citizenship provisions
    David Coltart
    May 31, 2013

    View this article on David Coltart's website here

    Many people have asked me recently about voter registration and the new citizenship provisions. There have also been major problems encountered by some in getting registered. In terms of the new Constitution which should become law this week every citizen is entitled to be registered to vote and many whose citizenship had been taken away will be allowed to become citizens again and then have the right to register as voters.

    At page 166, Sixth Schedule (Commencement of the Constitution, Transitional Provisions and Savings), under Part 3 (First Elections) point 6 (Registration of Voters) of the new Constitution, which as I say should become law this week, it states that:

    “1. Any person who has lawfully registered as a voter on a voters’ roll immediately before publication day (date when Constitution is enacted) is entitled to remain so registered for the purposes of the First Elections.
    2. For the purposes of the first elections, the Registrar General of Voters is responsible, under supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, for registering voters and compiling voters’ roll.
    3. The registrar General of Voters, under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must conduct a special and intensive voter registration and a voters’ roll inspection exercise for at least 30 days after the publication day.”

    The “publication day” is the day the President signs and gazettes the new Constitution into law which should be this Wednesday the 15th May 2013. That is when this new phase of voter registration must begin and I urge all to go and get registered if you aren’t already on the voters roll.

    What is equally critical are the new citizenship provisions in particular sections 36 and 43 of the new Constitution. In short these sections restore an absolute birth right. In short if a person was born in Zimbabwe and has at least one parent who was either born in Zimbabwe or in any SADC country (obviously including Zambia, Malawi and South Africa) then they are as of right entitled to be registered as a citizen and then are entitled to be registered as a voter. All one needs to do is take a long birth certificate (which shows where your parents were born) to the Registrar General’s office and have your ID changed from alien to citizen. They are obliged to do it immediately and for FREE. You cannot be forced any longer to renounce citizenship of South Africa etc to get your Zimbabwean citizenship simply because a parent was born there. Once you are a citizen by birth in Zimbabwe it is an absolute right and citizenship of another country is no bar to the retention of your Zimbabwean citizenship acquired as a result of that birth right.

    Once one’s ID has been changed from alien to citizen you can then be registered to vote subject to proof of residence, for this you will need a rates account or anything which shows where you live. If you do not have any such proof then ask the RG’s office for the standard affidavit form (approved by Cabinet last week) in which one can simply swear before a commissioner of oaths what one’s address is.

    I recognise that there may be many who will now want to register and this may involve time. However every vote is critically important and now is not the time for people to be apathetic. Please would you do this yourself, but also share this and encourage every person you know who was born in Zimbabwe (and has a parent who was either born here or in a SADC country) to get their ID changed and then get registered as a voter.

    The future of Zimbabwe depends on ensuring that everyone who is entitled to vote is registered to vote, and then votes.

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