Statement on the just ended voter registration

HARARE, 10 July 2013- The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) notes the end of the 30 day mobile voter registration exercise, but is deeply concerned that many potential voters could have been left out of the process.  Reports received from ZESN observers and feedback from its social media platforms indicates that many people failed to register due to the slow processing of people, limited days spent in a ward, lack of adequate personnel, inadequate voter education and publicity about the process. Although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) extended the mobile voter registration exercise to 12 midnight on the last day many people in most urban centres failed to be attended to.

ZESN reiterates its previous concerns regarding the limited time spent in each ward by mobile registrations teams. The 3 days spent per ward by the teams was inadequate given the huge turnout of potential voters in various parts of the country, especially urban areas. ZESN is of the view that the teams should have been deployed for 30 days in every ward to cater for the vast number of people intending to register to vote.

Of major concern was the slow processing of people at the registration centres and few centres in urban areas as well as long distances in rural areas. ZESN has observed that people had to stand in long queues, sometimes up to eight hours before being attended and this was mostly observed in urban areas. ZESN observers in Bulawayo noted how some officials from the Registrar General’s office seemed to be inadequately trained; they also noted different application of procedures and varied handling of affidavits. This resulted in some people being turned away at the close of the process despite having been in queues for the whole day. This was witnessed by ZESN staff members and volunteers who tried to register at Kambuzuma Community Hall, Marlborough High, Market Square in Harare, Zaloba primary school in Chiundura constituency, Phumelelo primary school in Mkoba, Gweru, Rusunguko High School in Shurugwi, Lobengula Secondary School in Bulawayo and Fairbridge Primary School in Umguza.ZESN observed that the slow processing was also a result of people requiring to register and inspect the voters’ roll standing in a single queue instead of having two lines for registration and inspection.

We believe this process was also affected by inadequate voter education given that only two people were deployed per ward to conduct voter education. The extension by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the registration on the last day of the registration exercise to twelve midnight was a welcome move but ZESN observers noted that the process was slow and chaotic in most areas, for example in Marlborough. ZESN therefore calls for:

  1. An extension to the mobile voter registration process by another week
  2. The development of a supplementary list to enable new registrants to vote in the harmonised elections
  3. District centres to be manned by more personnel and to close late
  4. Audit of the voters’ roll by ZEC
  5. ZEC should serious consider uploading the official updated voter’s roll on its website to enable people to check and inspect their names.
  6. Comprehensive voter education exercise for the harmonised election

The ZESN reiterates that a good voters’ roll is the backbone of an election and ZEC should seriously take all concerns from all stakeholders particularly political parties and observers as this can affect the credibility of the impending harmonised election. We call upon ZEC to use all the powers vested in them by ensuring that no potential and eligible voters are disenfranchised from voting after failing to register.//Ends

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.