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Voter registration: ZEC, RG Office disconnect worries CCC

The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) says it is concerned about the disconnect between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Registrar-General (RG) office in the ongoing mobile voter registration.

ZEC postponed the mobile voter registration which was initially set to begin in December last year purportedly to allow the RG Office to first embark on a massive issuing of identity documents.

However, the electoral management body later embarked on the mobile voter registration blitz on February 1 before the RG Office could carry out its mobile issuing of IDs, resulting in very low new registrant turnout across the country.

Addressing a press conference in Harare Wednesday, CCC secretary for elections, Ian Makone said the development was a serious cause for concern.

“In November of last year, ZEC advised us and I was present when they did so that they would be conducting a voter registration blitz starting on the 6th of December and then a moment later they advised us that, no, that blitz would not go ahead on the 6th of December but rather moved to February 2022 by which time they would have coordinated their efforts with the Registrar General’s Office,” said Makone.

“We didn’t argue; it made sense, then they made an announcement that the blitz would start on the 1st of February 2022, which was really out of the blue and our informal interactions with them had made us to believe it would be on the 22nd of February but again we didn’t argue only to find out that it was a unilateral decision by ZEC without consultations, so we are told, with the Ministry of Home Affairs.”

He further said: “I don’t normally speak on behalf of that ministry (Home Affairs) but in this case, I think they are right. Something is clearly wrong in the coordination between those two offices, which is going to cost us our democratic dividends. The net result is this registration came on a very slow start. There is no motivation particularly among the youngsters who do not have IDs. Even in 2017 and the earlier part of 2018 when we introduced the BVR (Biometric Voter Registration) system, there was a degree of coordination, friction but coordination nevertheless.”

Makone said lack of coordination between the two would negatively impact on the delimitation process due in August.

“We have got a population census due; I think at the end of April, we have the delimitation process scheduled in the ZEC timeline for August,” said Makone.

“Anyone that misses the registration blitz whenever it is running, is in danger of not being part of the delimitation process when it happens. We have sought confirmation from ZEC that anyone who is unregistered whether they have an ID now or they don’t have an ID now should be a candidate of the delimitation process whenever it happens. That assurance has not been given and we have a bone to chew with ZEC. I don’t think these are matters that are insurmountable.”

CCC deputy national spokesperson Gift Ostallos Siziba said the disconnect between ZEC and RG Office was a manipulation of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

“The problem of identity documents is an area of manipulation,” he said.

“It’s a very problematic issue and we must make it very clear. There was supposed to be a blitz of issuing of identity documents that goes parallel with the voter registration programme so it adds to the frustration. Don’t think that it’s an accident and we want to make it very clear. It’s deliberate; it’s ZANU’s menu of manipulation that we must frustrate voters.”

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