BY SILAS NKALA
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officials in Bulawayo have come under fire for allegedly failing to escalate the voter registration exercise in the city.
This was after reports emerged last week that Bulawayo was recording zero new voter registrants since Zec commenced its voter registration exercise.
There were also reports by different stakeholders that Zec was recording zero registrants because its machines had broken down.
MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza said Zec had one registration point in the city to cater for a population of over 650 000 people.
“Zec in Bulawayo says its machines are down. This is poor management for an important organisation running elections. It sounds like an excuse to bar multitudes of residents from registering to vote. Zec discontinued registration kiosks it once rolled out in Bulawayo townships, which made it easier to register new voters,” he said.
“The reality of having one voter registration centre in a huge province is torturous, distant and expensive. For Matabeleland South province, voters in Plumtree have to travel to Big Ben Road, Jahunda, Gwanda to register to vote. The same difficulty confronts Matabeleland North and Bulawayo residents, who all have to travel to the Zec offices at 16 Centenary Court, Windsor Park Building, 16th Avenue, Famona in Bulawayo.”
Chirowodza said one voter registration centre for voters living about 500km apart made it difficult for people in Bulawayo to register in large numbers ahead of the delimitation exercise.
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“As if that was not enough, the Registrar-General’s Office in Bulawayo says it currently does not have enough material to make national identity cards. One can’t register without a national identity card,” he said.
Chirowodza said COVID-19 lockdown regulations would further hinder Bulawayo people from registering.
Zec Bulawayo provincial elections officer Innocent Ncube last week appealed to politicians to encourage people to register to vote ahead of the constituency delimitation exercise.
Zec resumed other electoral processes such as voter registration on April 1.
There are fears that Bulawayo might lose three constituencies due to a low number of registered voters.Follow Silas on Twitter @silasnkala