Zimbabwe’s electoral body said on Tuesday it was failing to register voters at any given time in lockstep with the country’s laws due to crippling financial constraints.
And given its dire straits, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it was only registering new voters in areas with by-elections.
Critics say the failure to keep the process open is jeopardizing thousands of prospective voters and undermining the country’s electoral system.
“Voter registration should be continuous in terms of our laws but it is not,” said ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau. “The problem mainly is resources, we would want to go biometric, but we don’t have the funds at the moment.”
One activist pushing for a fair and transparent electoral process lashed out, speculating that the Zanu PF government was deliberately depriving ZEC of resources so it can cling onto power.
“I am forced to believe that this is deliberate," said Tawanda Chimhini of the Electoral Resource Center. "Starving ZEC of resources is an advantage to Zanu PF.”
Pivoting to the 2018 general elections, Makarau said despite the financial encumbrances, they were hoping to have registered all willing voters ahead of the crucial polls.
And to stimulate voter participation, Makarau said ZEC would roll out a campaign targeting specific demographics.
“We anticipate that as we go toward 2018, the youth and women are some of the groups that we would really want to target so that they fully participate in the election,” she added.