BRV registration begins, but…

HARARE - We applaud the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) for finally commencing the much anticipated national biometric voter registration (BVR) on Monday.

Reports from around the country have, however, exposed some of the weaknesses to this exercise, chief among them the slow pace at which registration is being processed and the turning away of many potential voters because they do not have proof of residence.

While Zec had said registration would take only four minutes per individual, it is actually taking individuals up to 30 minutes to register.

Apart from the registration process itself, people also have to endure long hours of queuing as the BVR kits are still very few with other centres only having one machine.

It is our hope that the remaining 2 600 BVR kits will be in the country next month as promised by Zec, otherwise this would be a futile exercise as time is not on our side to complete registration before the 2018 elections.

We are also worried that apart from the long time it is taking to register, there seems to be some teething technical problems that include the machines not reading people’s finger prints.

We hope Zec has trained enough people who will be able to operate the bulk of the BVR kits that are still to come and that they will be given enough time to familiarise with the registering machine.

We hope Zec also has addressed the issue of the BVR server which has been a bone of contention by civic and opposition political parties.

We hope Zec will be transparent on this issue because there is suspicion and concern over the storage of names of those who would have registered.

The commission should also address the issue of proof of residence because while there is a facility in which potential voters can produce affidavit, little awareness has transacted down to the potential voter.

Over the months we have urged Zec and other institutions that deal directly with elections to roll out voter education. This could have averted situation where potential voters are turned away because they do not have all the required papers that can facilitate their registration.

While Zec is urging those without proof of residence to have their forms signed by commissioners of oaths before visiting the registration centre; questions abound on where people would get the said forms or whether these would be signed for free.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) this week launched its national BVR campaigns in Mkoba 6, Gweru at which they were imparting knowledge on the registration process and from the conversations around this important exercise it seems citizens know little if anything about how they would go about registering.

Citizens were even surprised that they can still register with their metal identity cards and they did not know that there are affidavits they can produce as proof of residence.

We hope other organisations will join ZimRights in spreading this awareness so that citizens are aware of all the requirements they need when registering.

There is also need for ZEC to publish all registration centres so that citizens know to go and register.

It is also our hope that with time ZEC officials will be able to speed up registration processes to match their four minutes benchmark.

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