The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission failed Monday to roll out a fresh voter registration exercise in line with the new constitution, raising concerns about the country’s preparedness to hold elections the Supreme Court ruled should be held before July 31.
ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe said administrative problems affected the launch of the new program the commission announced would start Monday around the country.
Under the new constitution, the electoral body is required to supervise the registration of voters for a period of 30 days ahead of elections.
“We will be able to go out once everything is put in place,” said Kazembe. “The Registrar General needs also to send out teams to do the voter registration so soon we will be making an announcement.”
Organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said ZEC’s failure to launch a fresh voter registration exercise affects the date of the elections. The new constitution sets time limits as to processes the country should follow ahead of elections. The MDC formations are worried Zanu PF is interpreting the court’s ruling wrongly to give it an affair advantage.
Chamisa said the ZEC should announce the registration centers in advance of the fresh exercise to ensure all interested eligible voters register to participate in the polls.
Representatives of political parties are expected to meet Tuesday with ZEC officials to discuss problems affecting the commission ahead of the elections.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo was unavailable for comment.
The finance ministry has so far released $20 million for the new voter registration exercise although the electoral body had requested more funds. Harare needs $132 million to hold the crucial elections.
President Mugabe told the state media in Japan, where he was attending the 5th Tokyo International Conference for African Development Sunday that Zimbabwe will fund the elections though it will accept assistance from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Reached for comment, Thandeko Zinti Mnkandla, a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary affairs, said ZEC should have first clarified dates for completing logistics on the 30-day voter registration exercise and then announced the actual commencement date for registration to avoid confusion.
Mnkandla, who is also Gwanda North legislator, tells V-O-A’s Sithandekile Mhlanga not much work has been done on the ground to publicize the oncoming voter registration exercise.