REGISTRAR-General (RG), Tobaiwa Mudede has been accused of illegally usurping the powers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) by issuing statements that have a bearing on biometric voter registration (BVR).
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Mudede recently spoke on aliens and BVR, which contradict Zec’s position, creating confusion on the process.
Independent election watchdog, Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) called on Mudede to leave all statements on elections to Zec to avoid confusion.
“Zesn recommends that Zec be the only authority that makes official pronouncements on electoral processes to minimise confusion,” the watchdog said.
“For instance, the RG’s pronouncements regarding whether citizens classified as ‘aliens’ will be allowed to register and vote in 2018 are contrary to the pronouncements made earlier by Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau, who said that the so-called ‘aliens’ are eligible to vote.”
Mudede also said only holders of the machine readable plastic identity cards will be able to register to vote, while those with metal cards would be excluded.
“The RG stated that old metal identity cards will not be accepted for voting, as they are not machine-readable and will need to be replaced with the machine-readable plastic identity cards,” Zesn said.
“Zesn notes that this may lead to the disenfranchisement of a significant number of citizens, who may not be able to replace the identity documents in time to meet the timelines of the BVR exercise.”
The Elections Resource Centre (ERC) ruled Mudede offside, saying his statements violated the Constitution and created confusion in the electoral process, especially voter registration.
“Media reports suggesting a prescription of proof of identity for BVR registration on the basis of machine readability of previously accepted identity documents by the former Registrar of Voters are peculiar coming as they do on the eve of the voter registration process,” ERC said.
“It is suspicious, as it suggests the usurping of a constitutional mandate from Zec by the Registrar-General.
“To our knowledge, Zec has not assigned any government institution to speak on its behalf unless we are missing something.”
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said outlawing metal IDs for BVR registration was electoral fraud
“Mudede’s decree is not just illegal, but a sheer desperate attempt to give a lifeline to a regime that is languishing in the doldrums of political obscurity,” Ellen Shiriyedenga, MDC director for planning, strategy and implementation, said.
“Zanu PF is a clone of treachery, which uses even the dumbest excuse by an out-of-age civil servant to fraudulently win elections.”
She said Zimbabweans were waiting for the commencement of the BVR registration process in October, implying that Mudede was compelled to issue out new identity cards to a minimum of three million affected citizens, who have metal identity cards before this exercise.
“The irony is that, the main national registry offices, including Makombe and Market Square, currently do not issue more than 70 identity cards a day,” Shiriyedenga said.
“It will, therefore, require serious prophetic powers of extensive multiplication to issue identity cards to all affected people.
“A lot of people will be disenfranchised because, ordinarily, Mudede does not possess the technical, human nor financial resource capacity to execute such a high magnitude task within this short frame.”