Last chance to register as voters

HARARE - Potential voters who had not yet registered to vote in this year’s harmonised elections should utilise the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s biometric voter registration (BVR) mop-up exercise which commenced on January 10 and ends on February 8.

BVR was launched in 63 districts of Zimbabwe in September last year and was supposed to end this month before Zec announced the extension. It had registered 4 944 152 people as at January 15, according to statistics from Zec.

As for the current BVR mop-up exercise, a total of 2 850 mobile and 87 static registration centres have been established across the country and these should be able to mop up all the remaining potential registrants.

The mop-up was necessitated by low turnout in some provinces and a High Court judgment ordering Zec to register “aliens” who hitherto, were denied the right to vote.

There are many positives for Zimbabweans to register to vote in the 2018 harmonised elections because this is the time citizens have the chance to actually have a say in how the country is being run.

Although people complain over politicians and parties as citizens, unless they vote, there will never be any change.

Every Zimbabwean has a right to choose a leader of their choice, the standard of living, rights, liberties and life they prefer depends on whom they choose.

While the BVR mop-up exercise is now in motion, election watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC) believes there is lack of information on whether mechanisms were established by Zec to ensure effective participation by marginalised groups of “aliens,” women, youth and persons with disabilities in the mop-up exercise.

Zec should also address processes in some rural areas where voter mobilisers had to engage district administrators after village heads had initially refused to give villagers proof of residence without producing a chicken, which is required for one to be put on the village register.

Voter education and voter information for voter registration remains largely inadequate as witnessed by low uptake of the BVR exercise, particularly in Harare and Bulawayo.

Zec must address the fundamental issues being raised by election watchdogs so as to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive BVR mop-up exercise.

Transparency in all electoral processes is key for Zec to enhance trust ahead of the harmonised elections.

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