The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, says the organization is now in charge of voter registration and will embark on a nationwide voter registration campaign once the commission finishes analyzing data collected from voter registration conducted for two up-coming by-elections in Mt. Darwin West and Chirumanzi Zibagwe constituencies.
Briefing parliament’s Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee on the commission’s preparedness for the by-elections, Makarau said they would not use the discredited Registrar-General-compiled register but they carried out their own registration from 26 January to 10 February.
She said the voters’ roll compiled for the two by-elections scheduled for March 27 would determine whether the commission is ready to effectively manage the country’s voters’ roll.
Following the amendment of the country’s electoral law after the 2013 elections, in which the voters’ roll was largely disputed by opposition parties, the entire administration of the elections including voter registration is now done by the electoral commission.
Makarau said preparations of the by-elections were on course with voter education having been successfully conducted by the commission together with the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network.
She said most civil society organizations did not participate in the exercise, noting that it was probably due to lack of funds.
Makarau said although the commission had requested $2 million for the two by-elections, the treasury has released $1,5 million only for the polls.
The commission, she said, would recruit 865 election officers from the polls that would be contracted at about 140 polling stations in the two constituencies.
She added that the commission faces transport problems because of its aged fleet and the reluctance by the Central Mechanical Equipment Department to hire out vehicles over a $3 million debt outstanding from the commission’s use of CMED vehicles in the 2013 elections.
The two by-elections are being held to fill the parliamentary seats left by former Deputy President Joice Mujuru and one of the current vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Five candidates, including Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, will battle it out in the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe while four candidates will fight it out in Mt. Darwin West constituencies.