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The state of continuous voter registration in Zimbabwe
April 24, 2012
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Resource Centre (ERC) embarked on an exercise to assess the accessibility
and continuance of voter registration in Harare. This was done through
visits to some of the registration centres in Harare namely, Mt.
Pleasant, Kuwadzana, Mabvuku-Tafara, Hatfield and Highfield. Such
an exercise was necessitated by increasing reports of administrative
hindrances against those attempting to register and the apparent
closure of some registration centres. This, compounded by the lack
of voter information on the continuous nature of voter registration
in Zimbabwe as legally provided has prompted the ERC to make an
evidence-based assessment and or give recommendations to the need
for electoral authorities to adhere to the legal requirements allowing
potential voters to apply for registration or inspect the voter`s
register on a continuous basis.
of the quick assessment point to a very disturbing pattern in the
voter registration process, especially given that some political
actors have insisted on holding elections in 2012. The ERC team
noted some irregularities in the manner in which the registration
centres are conducting their day to day activities. Below is a summary
of the findings:
registration centres - Some registration centres like
Hatfield are apparently closed for the registration centres with
the officials unsatisfactorily giving reasons to the effect that
the process of registering voters is yet to commence.
time for registration - There are inconsistencies in
the provision of voter registration services with most registration
centres allocating an average of 4 hours for the process of registering
voters. This usually results in frustrating potential registrants
as they often are forced to wait for long hours as the registration
officials prioritize the registration related to birth certificates,
national I.D.s and death certificates. Consequently voter registration
exercise is treated as a peripheral issue in the centres so visited.
by coercion - There is an emerging pattern of vote buying
fashioned through the sprouting housing cooperatives whereupon
those responsible for allocating the pieces of land, and also
happen to be known leaders of certain political parties would
demand the intended beneficiaries to be registered voters first
before being allocated the residential stands. Such coercion apparently
exposes potential voters to manipulation by certain functionaries
of political parties as well as it potentially threatens the individuals'
freedom of choice and association.
Registration - The assessment also established that access
to registration services is at times administered in a partisan
manner with suspected supporters of some political parties and
young people intending to register facing frustrating hurdles
during their attempts to register as voters.
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