JUST over a month ago, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba announced that the electoral body was ready to conduct by-elections.
Chigumba said the electoral body was ready to hold the polls once Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 suspending by-elections was lifted.
Fast forward to November 17, the same Zec announced that it had cancelled its planned mobile voter registration exercise that was expected to start on December 6.
No reasons were given.
Nonetheless, the cancellation raises eyebrows, coming weeks after the same electoral body said it was ready to hold by-elections.
This begs the questions: Is Zec under instruction to suppress the citizens’ right to register to vote? Or are there certain groups of people not supposed to be accorded the opportunity to register to vote?
Is Zec ready to conduct by-elections and other electoral processes as mandated by the Electoral Act to guarantee the people’s right to vote as enshrined in the Constitution? Or the talk of being ready was just razzmatazz to make us think everything was under control?
A critical part of any pre-election process is voter registration.
Voter registration serves three main purposes: to ensure that everyone eligible to vote can do so, prevent those not legally entitled to vote from voting and to curb multiple voting by individuals.
The practice and procedures for voter registration are prescribed in section 17A of the Electoral Act.
A complete, accurate and up-to-date voters roll is instrumental to holding credible elections.
An updated voters’ roll is also a key resource for the upcoming delimitation exercise — the redrawing of electoral boundaries.
The quality of electoral processes such as voter registration is a key factor in engendering confidence and integrity in the polls.
By ensuring continuous voter registration, Zec has an opportunity to increase public confidence in the voters roll ahead of the elections.
But alas, Zec has other plans that cast doubts on its credibility and whether the electoral body is truly independent.
With Zec’s surprise cancellation of the voter registration exercise, we are left with one conclusion; that this is a deliberate act to frustrate first-time voters.
After the country witnessed a number of voter registration awareness campaigns, Zec chose to suppress the wishes of the people.
Thousands of first-time voters had been mobilised for the voter registration exercise.
This indefinite postponement brings uncertainty and confusion to them.
There are reasonable grounds to suspect that the next rollout will coincide with a lockdown and, therefore, face another postponement.
It all looks like choreography at work.