Late voter mobilisation affects registration

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) chairperson Andrew Makoni says voter registration mobilisation and awareness should have started well before the BVR process kicked off as many people are still unaware of the exercise’s processes.

“In an ideal situation what should start first is voter awareness, that did not happen, and many people were unaware of these processes.

“The early birds that visited centres were not prepared as they did not have proper documents and were turned away.

“Such a situation can actually discourage those who want to register to vote come 2018.

“People are discouraged and we believe as Zesn we must get things right from the beginning,” said Makoni.

He urged Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) to deploy enough kits in a transparent manner that will not disadvantage particular areas.

“Perhaps Zec as they continue to roll out BVR they should ensure even distribution of voters’ registration centres to minimise distances voters have to travel. So far we only have 63 official centres.”

Makoni believes more can be done so that the public is not blocked from the process because of a lack of resources.

“As Zesn we are ready to deploy 2 000 educators who will work in various wards throughout the country. Since we have 1 950 wards, some of our educators would be mobile, hence cover as much ground as possible.

“While we might have wanted to start voter education as far back as possible, we could not do so as we had to be accredited by Zec first and I am glad that only two weeks ago we were given the green light.

“Unfortunately, it is from then that we could start planning. The letter for the actual implementation plans came from Zec only last week.

“At the moment what we can do is train the educators and have them go through the actual BVR process and then deploy them.

“But still Zec hasn’t told us how many centres there will be throughout the country – at the moment it is just guess work,” said Makoni.

Zesn has the right expertise of monitoring the BVR exercise. “We have been part of the organisations that observed the initial procurement of BVR kits here and we also have observed this process while being carried in other countries and as such we have the experience.”

Makoni was hopeful that once the remaining kits arrive in the country the process would speed up.

“Ideally when registering for an election we need three months, but for us this is creating a new voters’ register so we need four months.”

Makoni said there was need for electoral reforms. “There have been some amendments to the Electoral Act but as Zesn we say they fall short; most of our laws have to be aligned to the Constitution.

“The process has been painstakingly slow and there were just piecemeal adjustments. We still call for the alignment of these laws to the Constitution.”

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