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ZCTU: Workers Need Special Days for Voter Registration

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) wants the government to designate special off days to allow workers time to register as voters in time for this year’s elections.

The umbrella body of all labour unions in the country says the second phase of the mobile voter registration exercise is too slow with people spending up to five hours on queues before successfully registering or checking their names on the voters’ roll.

ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo told a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) meeting to discuss the voter registration exercise that workers are failing to add their names to the voters’ roll because the process is taking too long.

He said the ZCTU is worried that many workers may fail to register by the time the exercise ends on July 9.

He said the umbrella union has written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission highlighting the workers’ concerns.

Election Resource Centre director, Tawanda Chimhini, told the meeting that while there has been some improvement in the on-going exercise, problems associated with delays and uneven distribution of registration centres were rife.

Director Wellington Zindove of the Youth Forum said the exercise has not been adequately publicised as some people do not know when registration teams would in their area.

Chimhini and Zindove said it was worrying that ZEC has barred civil society organisations from participating in the exercise.

ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe told the media Monday that civil society would not be allowed to take part in the current exercise but would be considered for the voter roll’s inspection exercise.

She, however, said organisations which get foreign funding would be required to surrender theirs funds to ZEC. But Zindove said that was impossible.

ZDI director Pedzisayi Ruhanya said it was not necessary for civil society to divulge their source of funding to ZEC. He said civil society gets money to facilitate the democratic process.

Participants at Wednesday’s meeting agreed that results of the forthcoming elections will be contested if the voter registration exercise is not conducted properly.

While Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede told parliament last week that his department did not have adequate resources to conduct ward-based registration for 30 days, Finance Minister Tendai Biti still insists that enough money was released for the exercise.

Voter registration is currently being done at district level with four teams spending at least four days in a ward during the 30-day period.