CSOs blame ZEC for poor administrative decisions

Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)’s poor administrative decisions during the first week of the voter registration blitz made it difficult for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)  to monitor the exercise.  

In an analysis of the process, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) noted that ZEC’s shifting of dates throttled their plans to deploy adequate observers to all registration centres where the BVR process was taking place during the first week.

“In late October 2021, ZEC initially announced that it planned to conduct a voter registration blitz beginning in early December. ZEC later detailed that the voter registration blitz would occur simultaneously across all 210 constituencies in two phases, with the first beginning on the 6th of December 2021 concluding on 20 December 2021 and the second phase starting on 28 December 2021 concluding on the 1st of February 2022,” the analysis read.

“Approximately two weeks prior to the scheduled start of Phase 1 the ZEC postponed the entire voter registration blitz to early February 2022. The reason ZEC gave for the delay was to provide additional time for Zimbabweans to obtain national ID cards which is a key requirement for one to register. The ZEC did not provide the new dates of the voter registration blitz until the 13th of January 2022 and it was at this time when the ZEC announced that the voter registration blitz was to begin on 1 February- 28 February 2022.”  

The organisations noted that lack of sufficient notice and uncertainty of the timeline created confusion amongst individuals who wish to register or update their registration details and also made it difficult for other stakeholders, including political parties, CSOs and observers to adequately prepare to engage in the process.

They complained that without advanced notification, ZEC only accredited observers in two provincial centres, Bulawayo and Harare, requiring last minute changes to their training plans and this had significant financial implications as some had to travel to the two provinces.

“While ERC and ZESN appreciate the accreditation extended to their observers by the ZEC, there were a number of administrative challenges that affected the timely deployment of ERC and ZESN’s observers. In past processes, ZEC conducted accreditation at all the provincial centres,” the analysis read.

“Further, the Accreditation Committee did not meet as announced in advance of Phase 1 of the voter registration blitz. Instead, the Committee only met on Monday 31st of January 2022 with accreditation at the Harare Accreditation Centre starting on the 1st of February and accreditation at the Bulawayo Accreditation Centre starting on the 3rd of February 2022 (Phase 1 started 1st February). As a result of the administrative decisions, it was not possible for ERC and ZESN to deploy observers in the first week of Phase 1 of the voter registration blitz as planned. These challenges undermined the civic society oversight of the blitz.”

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