The move taken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Monday 10 October 2016 of informing some representatives of political parties falling under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) that it was working to replace the current voters’ roll with a completely new biometric register that would record the faces and fingerprints of polling citizens is a welcome development that would clear some air over the composition of the voters roll.
Some opposition political parties have been calling on ZEC to have reforms on its operations and such a move taken by ZEC shows that this electoral board is prepared to accommodate the views of all the stakeholders on elections in the country. The fact that NERA of late has been carrying out some demonstrations directed to ZEC in which it called for the same to reform means that ZEC is on the right directions. Those who have been making noise directed to ZEC in which they wanted it to reform its operations should now relax and give it ample time to carry on with its operations.
It is a fact that some opposition political parties have been complaining that the existing voters roll has for years been allegedly containing anomalies that included ghost voters, inaccuracies in identity particulars, duplication of names and omissions that were said to be aiding the ruling party ZANU PF in winning elections. Now that ZEC has decided to start afresh on the registration of some eligible voters so the opposition political parties should now give time ZEC to do their operations without hindrances. Time for demonstrations against ZEC should now be used by opposition political parties in educating their supporters to go and register for the forthcoming 2018 harmonized elections once the registration exercise takes off.
Zimbabweans should take seriously what the ZEC Chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau said when she clearly said that the new registration of voters was likely to commence in May 2017 and the biometric roll would be polling station-based. So those who have been crying foul and alleging that there have been some double voting in the country would be rest assured that nothing of that sought would be talked about. The fact that voter registration would be polling station based means there would be no chances of one voting twice. So ZEC should be held with high esteem for coming up with such reforms which would put to rest misconception that had been within some voters in which they thought one can vote twice. Some were even saying that one can vote in another centre and then travels to another one to vote but with this polling station based registration exercise such usually-talked-about anomalies would be the thing of the past.
As someone who wanted to show all Zimbabweans that ZEC is there to make sure that everyone is registered, Justice Makarau went on to call for all members of NERA to encourage their members to get registered once the voter registration program starts in March 2017. For that reason people should take this initiative by ZEC seriously so that there would be noone to cry foul in the event that one is not registered. It should be known that voting is everyone citizen’s right to do so and for that right to be maintained and upheld there is need for everyone to get registered by ZEC so that in 2018 and onwards everyone would every time and again fulfil his/her voting right without problems.
People should be aware that the opposition political parties have been calling for the Registrar General to transfer all voting materials including the voters roll to ZEC and now ZEC is starting everything afresh. This should be applauded because there would be no longer anyone crying foul over the Registrar General’s operations when it comes to voting. Actually people should be aware that ZEC has decided to come up with the voters roll because the old voters’ roll did not capture people’s biometrics. So this new voters’ roll would capture people’s biometrics meaning that it would be very different to the old voters’ roll.
What is important for the potential voters to realise is that if you were registered for 2013, but don’t register for 2018, your picture will not be able to appear on the voters’ roll, and your name will actually not be on the voters’ roll, which is going to be polling station based rendering your right to vote invalid. For that reason some political parties should frantically educate their supporters to have this important message in the minds so that they would not be found wanting. It would not make any sense for someone to try to vote when one has not registered.
It is equally important for some political parties to carry out voter education to their supporters during those rallies which they would be carrying out throughout the country. People should be made to understand and appreciate that voter registration and the actual voting would be polling station based so that there would be no confusion when both processes are carried out. On the other hand ZEC should also educate people on the importance of changing from the old voters roll to the new voters roll. Countrywide voter education on the pending new voter registration would assist people to understand why there is a need for such an exercise.
Normally people are reluctant to be registered in anything if there is no adequate reasons of why there is need for such registration. As such ZEC should start now to come up with even flies written in all Zimbabwean languages so that people get to know what March 2017 would be in store for them. The use of advertisements by ZEC on radio stations and the national television as well as all national newspapers would help ZEC to make sure that information is disseminate to all so that people would appreciate the importance of coming up with this new voters roll. Lack of adequate information on the new voter registration could make the process unsuccessful thereby causing seemingly voter apathy in the forthcoming 2018 harmonized elections. So 2018 harmoniozed elections preparations should not be spoiled by lack of adequate information on the new voters roll.
ZEC should also educate the electorate on the importance of the biometric voting system so that enthusiasm among the electorate on the voting processes is developed, The fact that biometric is being increasingly adopted worldwide so as to enhance polling transparency, accuracy and security should also be a driving force which the electorate needs to be informed so that everything goes quite well.
Now the opposition political parties which have always been finding faults where there was none in the old voters roll should now join ZEC in making sure that the new voter registration exercise is successful by encouraging their people to register for 2018 harmonized elections. It should be known that getting into political offices by aspiring politicians should start in March 2017 when new voter registration kicks off. The electorate should remember that no voting when one is not registered and one can only vote in the polling station where he would have been registered.