Voter registration marred by apathy

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A-mock-exercise-by-the-Zimbabwe-Electoral-Commission-on-the-use-of-the-Biometric-voter-registration-registration-kits-in-Mabvuku-yesterday-(4)
A-mock-exercise-by-the-Zimbabwe-Electoral-Commission-on-the-use-of-the-Biometric-voter-registration-registration-kits-in-Mabvuku-yesterday-(4)

BY SHARON BUWERIMWE/ METHEMBE SIBANDA/ PATRICIA SIBANDA
THE ongoing biometric voter registration (BVR) blitz has been marred by apathy with several potential registrants claiming that they are being turned away due to lack of documentation.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has set up 2 700 registration centres under the current blitz running from last week until February 28, and April 10 to 30.

Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana told NewsDay that the low turnout was disturbing.

“In terms of the turn out, it was not that fruitful, but moving forward, we hope people will start turning up to register to vote. It’s just that I do not have the figures with me right now, but all I know is there was very low turnout on the first day,” he said.

“We are trying to encourage people to go and register to vote because decentralised centres have been put in place for them to register to vote.”

A survey by NewsDay revealed that several voter registration centres in the country were deserted, while potential voters, mostly the youth, claimed that they were being turned away over lack of documents such as a national identity card or valid passport and proof of residence.

The voter registration blitz was initially scheduled for December last year, but was postponed following concerns that the majority of potential voters did not have identity documents.

Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said: “There was insufficient information provided on the location of the mobile BVR kits and the blitz itself.

“There has been increasing apathy brought about by disputed 2018 elections and the resultant lack of implementation of electoral reforms necessary to build public confidence in electoral processes which will increase participation.

“The failure to implement reforms is impacting participation levels.”

Zimbabwe Election Support Network programmes director Ellen Dingani said they were planning to deploy observers to check for consistency in the application of voter registration procedures, the opening and closing times, turnout of potential registrants, voter education and any challenges that citizens were facing.

Regions such as Matabeleland reportedly have the least number of registered voters and might lose some constituencies in the forthcoming delimitation exercise.

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