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Electoral Commission, Parties Discuss Overhaul of Voters Roll

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Eighteen political party representatives in Zimbabwe on Monday held a meeting with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to discuss the voter registration process, the overhauling of the voters’ roll and fees charged to access copies of the voters’ lists.

The meeting was called by ZEC following reports by political parties that some of their supporters are finding it difficult to register as voters with the Registrar General’s Office, which is in charge of that process.

In a statement late evening, the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said it had demanded that the residence requirement under which potential registrants were required to furnish the Registrar's offices with letters from traditional leaders to prove their residents in various wards must be scrapped.

“This is because this requirement was being abused in some areas resulting in some people being denied these letters by the traditional leaders on political ground,” said the party.

It said its delegation demanded that potential voters could use specially designed affidavits under which they stated under oath their places of residence. This had already been the position taken by the negotiators to the Global Political Agreement.

“The MDC submitted that the appointment of persons to run elections had to be done in a politically inclusive manner. This includes the appointment of voter educators as well as polling officers. During the referendum the ZEC only appointed Zanu PF sympathizers in the form of ward youth officers to work as the polling officers. This is unacceptable,” read part of the statement.

It further noted that although the government had announced that mobile voter registration targeting mainly rural communities was supposed to commence on the January 3, 2013, nothing in that regard has materialized to date. “The MDC demanded that the mobile voter registration exercise be embarked upon as a matter of urgency.”

ZEC announced last week it had removed 345,000 deceased people from the voters’ roll and added 60,000 first time voters. But some parties say they need proof to support ZEC’s assertions.

Political parties are also unhappy with the amount of money charged to access the voters’ roll. At ward level it costs $15 to get a voters’ roll in a country with 1,958 wards. At least $30,000 is needed to access the voters’ list for the whole country.

Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the MDC-T, said his party is particularly concerned about the so-called “aliens” who are being turned away from registration centres.

Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he was still waiting to be updated on the meeting by party representatives who attended the indaba. But he said he is happy that ZEC has cleaned up certain sections of the voters’ roll.

Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn party's secretary for mobilization, Chenjerai Gwanzura, said as political parties they urged ZEC to allow people to use their national identification cards or passports for the voters registrations exercise without being asked to produce letters from village heads, chiefs or landlords.