Zimbabwe's Office of the Registrar General has issued a call for voters to register, drawing fire from critics who say the invitation is is premature given that the Electoral Amendment Bill now being debated in parliament could change many aspects of the electoral system, among other things how Zimbabwean register to vote.
The notice by the Registrar General’s Office said public registration does not only take place when elections have been proclaimed, adding that it was ready to accommodate those who wanted to register for the first time or transfer their registration.
Under the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill the registrar general would still maintain the national voters roll, but this would be under the supervision and oversight of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Some say the Electoral Commission should assume all responsibility for the voters roll, alleging partisanship by the registrar general.
Lawyer and commentator Alex Magaisa said Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede is still legally charge of the voter registration process – but said that the latest communication by his office to the public could be seen as politically motivated.
But Programs Director Wellington Zindove of the Youth Forum welcomed the invitation saying it could spur Parliament to revisit the proposed amendment.
Zindove said registration centers have turned away many hopeful voters who are clearly eligible, alleging that this is intended to protect President Robert Mugabe and his former ruling ZANU-PF party from the political impact of new registrations.
Many youths and other eligible voters have accused the registration offices of denying them the right to sign up to vote citing lack of proof of residence.