WASHINGTON DC —
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission-ZEC was forced Tuesday to extend the voter registration exercise until at least midnight to allow those still queuing to register.
But the country's constitutionally mandated 30-day mobile voter registration exercise ended amid complaints by voters in the capital city Harare, Bulawayo and other cities of a deliberate ploy by officials from the Registrar General’s Office of frustrating and forcing many to abandon the registration.
The Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai released a statement Tuesday calling on ZEC to extend the exercise.
"As a party, we believe it would be a travesty of justice and a violation of people’s rights if this exercise is closed when we have people wishing to register to vote," the statement read.
It added, "Section 155 of the new Constitution states that the state must take all appropriate measures to ensure that all eligible citizens are registered as voters and to ensure that every citizen who is eligible to vote has an opportunity to cast a vote.
In light of this, the people of Zimbabwe have a legitimate expectation that ZEC will at least extend the voter registration exercise to fulfill the state’s obligation to ensure that all eligible citizens are registered to vote and will be able to cast their vote on 31st July."
Most registration centers in Harare and Bulawayo were conspicuous by the long queues of frustrated residents who spent more than eight hours waiting to be served. The cities are known strongholds of the MDC.
Residents in most cities who spoke to VOA Studio 7 and also took to Facebook have raised an outcry at the slow pace with which the ZEC and officials in the RG’s Office were carrying out the registration process.
Officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Registrar General’s Office were dispatched to the country’s 1,958 wards to register eligible voters on the June 10 ahead of the July 31 election.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network director Rindai Chipfunde Vava said lack of funds and publicity must have hampered the registration process.