Opposition seeks waiver on BVR observer fees

HARARE - Zimbabwe will start officially accrediting observers for the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise, with the opposition complaining about the $10 accreditation fee for each observer.

The opposition MDC said it is looking to register 10 000 observers to be deployed at the 10 000 registration centres that have been set up countrywide, which means they need $100 000 — a figure they described as a top-line ripple.

Prospective observers from Africa are required to pay $20 to be registered, $50 for foreign envoys and $100 for international observers.

Local journalists accredited to the Zimbabwe Media Commission are required to pay $10 with their foreign counterparts expected to pay $50 to cover the BVR exercise.

“This fee is only for observing the BVR process only,” Zec chairperson Rita Makarau said. “There will be another accreditation process for elections.”

MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said they had set up a meeting with Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to ask for a government waiver.

“It is unfair that observers should be asked to pay $10 especially when you have more than 10 000 registration agents,” he said.

“We are engaging government officials. Just like government waived the issue of ID fees, they should as well waive the fee for observers.”

Asked if they will be able to deploy observers when the process commences today, Mwonzora said: “We are trying to make ends meet, certainly we will be represented but whether we will be represented to a sufficient degree is something else. But we are doing all we can that every registration centre has our agent.”

The BVR blitz commences today for a period of 72 days with the first phase running to October 25, with BVR kits spending a maximum 16 days per centre.

Makarau said political parties had raised this issue with Zec “and we explained to them that as it is we cannot change it.”

Makarau told the Daily News yesterday: “We advised them that they will have to go through government to ask for a waiver as what happened with the national identity cards fees.”

The blitz comes after the electoral management body took delivery of the remaining 2 600 biometric voter registration (BVR) kits, late last month.

Each kit has capacity to register an average 80 to 100 voters per day.

As of October 3, 28 191 citizens had biometrically registered to vote with the commission expecting that number to increase after delivery of the complete set of BVR kits.

“So far we are expecting everything to begin properly,” Makarau said.

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