'Zec registering only 100 people in Harare/day'

HARARE - An election watchdog has raised alarm that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is only registering 100 people per day at Cecil House and Remembrance Complex static voter registration centres in Harare, with the prospective registrants being turned away as early as 11am.

The observation, having been made on March 29, 2018, was communicated to Zec in the spirit of assisting the Commission in remedying identified challenges in the electoral process, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has said. 

In the communication, the ERC recommended that the Zec ensures unlimited continuous voter registration throughout a normal working day.

ERC said the observation and recommendation have been snubbed by Zec.

“Zec’s decision to ignore suggests a disregard of key principles of voter registration and election administration.  Constricting the number of voter registrants per day in Harare, a province where the rate of registration has been the lowest compared to other provinces, violates principles of inclusivity, comprehensiveness and accessibility in voter registration,” ERC said in a statement yesterday.

ERC and other stakeholders have in the past highlighted the disproportionate allocation of BVR kits and voter registration centres during the biometric voter registration blitz and the follow up mop up exercise. This resulted in suppressed voter registration figures in Harare and Bulawayo.

While Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba was unreachable to comment on the accusations, her predecessor Rita Makarau — reacting to complaints that the two metropolitan provinces of Harare and Bulawayo had fewer voter registration centres compared to rural provinces —said these claims were not well founded or honest.

“I will explain why there may appear to be a disparity in the number of voter registration centres. We did not allocate voter registration centres according to whether the land is urban or rural,” former Zec boss Makarau said.

“We allocated voter registration centres per province and some provinces then happen to be urban, some provinces happen to be mainly rural with a few urban areas.

“But in rural areas, we notice that voters do cover a long distance to go to the nearest polling station or voter registration centre.

“So to bring the facility to the people we have had to increase the number of voter registration centres in those areas. In urban areas, the distances tend to be shorter, the population is more dense and one registration station can serve quite a large number of people.

“That might explain why we appear to have less voter registration centres in urban areas. But our aim is to cover every eligible Zimbabwean.” 

ERC appealed to Zec to ensure unlimited continuous voter registration at all statistic voter registration centres across the country.

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