Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has noted with concern the absence of commissioners of oaths at Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) centres run by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in the ongoing blitz to register voters in the country.
In a statement Wednesday evening, ZimRights said commissioners of oath are failing the people of Zimbabwe.
“Reports gathered by ZimRights show that the commissioners of oaths are totally absent, arrive late or leave the centres while registration is still in progress, forcing people to either look for alternatives where they have to pay, or to leave the registration centres without registering for failure to fulfil the proof of residence requirement.
“These shortcomings are greatly affecting the voter registration process and unnecessarily compounding the challenges caused by the unfamiliarity of the new biometric system.
ZimRights would like to emphasize that all eligible citizens have the constitutional right to register in the ongoing BVR blitz as voters, for them to express their political preferences in the forthcoming harmonised elections in 2018.”
ZimRights urged ZEC to provide commissioners of oath in all registration centres.
“The government of Zimbabwe has a duty to fund electoral processes and see to it that all personnel such as commissioners of oaths and stationery including VR1 and VR9 forms required for voter registration are provided.”
The Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai also expressed the same sentiments, stressing that the so-called voter registration exercise is no living up to expectations.
“Throughout the country, people are turning out to register to vote in their numbers but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, with the assistance of Zanu PF, are making frantic efforts to snuff out the national craze through unnecessary bureaucracy and a deliberate creation of chaos.
“The MDC is seriously disturbed by the slowness of the process in serving prospective registrants which can only point to a desperate attempt to blight the growing national enthusiasm to register to vote.”
But ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau insisted that the process is running smoothly.
However, the MDC-T said, “We note with serious concern that ZEC appears ill-prepared to execute its Constitutional mandate. Impediments are deliberately being thrown into the whole process, amid reports that at some centres the electoral management body is claiming that VR 9 forms have run out.
“The forms can be used as proof of residence and their so-called shortage is leaving a lot of potential voters stranded and helpless. There are also no commissioners of oath at most registration centres to assist prospective registrants. The voter registration certificates themselves are fraught with a lot of anomalies, with notable variations and inconsistencies on their format.”
Despite these hurdles, the opposition party urged people to register to vote in the 2018 council, parliamentary, senatorial and presidential elections.
“Let us all register to vote. The right to vote is a right for which many Zimbabweans paid the supreme price. We must not betray the spirit of the departed patriots of this land by staying away from this important process, whatever impediments ZEC and Zanu PF may wish throw in our way.”
ZEC expects to register at least 7 million people by January next year, a few months before the crucial polls.