Zec must extend BVR for 'aliens'

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must extend voter registration for so-called aliens, independent  election watchdog Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn)  has said.

This comes after the High Court two weeks ago ordered the Zec to register “aliens” as prospective voters for the 2018 general elections during the on-going biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise.

High Court judge Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa’s judgment allowed aliens to vote provided that they provide their national identity documents endorsed alien, their birth certificate and proof of residence.

The ruling finalised a legal challenge filed by a Harare resident 57-year-old Sarah Kachingwe, who resides in Epworth and two factions of the MDC opposition political parties, which sought an order allowing some individuals classified as “aliens” to register to vote in the 2018 general elections without any impediment or additional requirement other than requirements relating to all people.

Zesn said the electoral body must extend the registration period for aliens who were disenfranchised during the first three phases of the BVR.

“Zec should extend the BVR process to accommodate 'aliens' who are now eligible to register and deliberately target places such as farms and mines where these people normally reside,” Zesn said, without stating how long the extension must be.

According to official statistics from Zec, by November 28, over 3million prospective voters had been registered under phase 3 which ended on December 1.

The fourth and final phase of the registration process started on December 4 and will end on December 19.

Zesn said those classified as aliens were still facing problems. In the wake of the  ruling, Zesn observed that “aliens” were still being turned away without registering because registration officers were waiting for the relevant  instructions from Zec.”

“Zesn therefore urges the Zec to promptly provide the necessary clarity about the new status of the so-called aliens. Such clarity needs to be mainstreamed into future registration efforts,” Zesn said.