Some youths from the high density suburb of Sakubva have expressed concerns over some irregularities during the biometric voters registration (BVR) for the 2018 harmonised elections.
This came out during a community meeting held recently in wards 1 and 4 in Sakubva.
Snikiwe Masola from Ward 1 said many youths and the elderly did not manage to register to vote. “I feel more registration centres should have been created to accommodate the elderly who could not walk long distances to the centres that were available,” said Masola. She added, “The other problem we had was that of proof of residence. Many people did not have proof of residence in their names as a result they failed to register. The ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) officials did not explain well the issue of affidavits as proof of residence and these created misconceptions.”
Evans Wine another resident from the same ward said there was no mention of affidavits at all.“For some of us who do not have proof of residence in our names we only managed to register after our neighbours wrote letters verify we stay together,” he said. He however said those technicalities did put off most of the youth from registering. Wine added that he noticed that instead of him being put in ward 1 he was put in ward 4. After inquiring on the anomaly he said he did not get a clear answer and was referred to the District Administrator’s offices.”A number of people were put in wards they do not stay in. How will I vote for a councillor in an area where I do not stay in as they won’t serve my interests,” said Wine.
Jussa Kudherezera from Ward 4 said during the registration process some residents were registered but were told registration slips were finished. “What proof will I have that I would have registered in the event that on the voting day I find my name not on the voters roll?”he said.
Other than the above issues most of the residents said the registration exercise went on well. They said there is however need for more voter education because a lot of people still do not have information on the BVR and elections processes. With elections anticipated to be in the next four months a lot of voter education still needs to be done.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the Davos summit in Switzerland said elections would be held earlier than July and he would make the pronouncement of the elections date at close of the voter registration exercise.
“Zimbabwe is going for elections in four to five months’ time and we have to preach peace, peace and peace because we know it is good for us and we have no doubt that we will have peaceful elections…I assure the regional leadership that the forthcoming harmonised polls will embrace the tenets of democracy, fair play and standards set by us in the SADC,” said President Mnangagwa.
When the President met his Mozambican counterpart Cde Filipe Nyusi in January he reiterated the same thing and said he would ensure that Zimbabwe delivers free, credible, fair and indisputable elections to make sure Zimbabwe engages the world as a qualified democratic state.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) Manicaland chairman David Mutambirwa said the BVR process went relatively well considering that it was a new concept. “It was very slow in its inception but picked up as time progressed. However there was low voter education by ZEC as evidenced by many people failing to produce the required documents for registration,” said Mutambirwa. He however said the shortage of registration slips would lead to lack of confidence in ZEC by the public.
Asked about whether they had received complains whereby people were being forced to show their registration slips to some political parties and give them their serial numbers Mutambirwa said they had received such reports. “This can be qualified as intimidation but it cannot affect the election process. It is against the Electoral Act to demand registration slips and anyone who is forced to should go report at their nearest police station,” said Mutambirwa.