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Zimbabwe Relaxes Identity Document Requirements Ahead of Crucial Elections

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Zimbabwe’s cabinet on Tuesday agreed on a raft of changes that will make it easier for ordinary people to access identity documents and register as voters as the country prepares for elections expected later this this year.

Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone told VOA Studio 7 cabinet also agreed that people previously regarded as aliens should be allowed to register as voters.

“The current law allows aliens to register as voters right away,” she said. “If one is born in Zimbabwe, or if either parent is Zimbabwean, they automatically are Zimbabwean. Aliens with alien identity documents but who qualify as voters must have these swapped for citizen IDs.”

The minister said the registration slips that they are given during this process will be presented together with IDs for voting purposes, even if their names do not appear on the final voters’ roll.

Makone said cabinet also agreed that all Zimbabweans who have lost their identity cards can have them replaced for free between now and election time.

It’s only after the close of the voter registration process that they will be asked to pay to replace lost documents.

The minister also agreed that with immediate effect political parties will not be forced to part with over $30,000 to buy the national voters’ roll. The amount to access one was slashed from $30,000 to $5,000.

“With immediate effect the voters’ roll should be issued in an electronic format to stakeholders,” said Makone. “If required in printed form, the voters’ roll should be pegged at $5,000 per copy.”

On the cost of passports, she said complaints that only passports priced at $300 were being processed quickly while the $50 ones were ignored, the minister said cabinet agreed that the Registrar General’s Office should not take more than four months to produce ordinary passports.

“With immediate effect, there shall be two separate windows for passport applications, one for urgent passports and another for ordinary passports,” she said.

On the registration of married women as voters, the cabinet said they no longer need to travel to their place of birth to get letters and documents so they can be placed on the voters’ lists in their new constituencies.

“Women voters who find themselves removed from their original birthplaces will be registered in their new places of residence upon authentication by their husband, husband’s relatives, their own children, neighbors, elderly people and or traditional leaders,” said Makone.

“Their identity details can be located on the Registrar’s system by giving details of origin.”

The same goes for the registration of voters in new constituencies.

“With immediate effect, all voters should be facilitated to change their address from their old to their new residential addresses. No-one should be required to travel to their old places of residence to effect this change,” the minister added.

Cabinet also addressed the issue of the attitude displayed by the Registrar General’s staff towards the public with the minister saying “a concerted effort to have staff trained in public etiquette is going to be organized by the ministry and the office of the RG.

"In the meantime, staff will be reminded to apply the African spirit of Ubuntu towards the public, who are after all their masters.”

Both Zanu PF and the MDC-T on Monday expressed concern over irregularities in the voter registration exercise as the country prepares for this year’s elections.

The parties met the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to discuss the state of the voters’ roll, registration of voters and accreditation of observers ahead of the elections leading to the Tuesday’s cabinet decision.