Zimbabweans verify entries on voter’s roll after criticized biometric registration
Zimbabwean citizens who have registered to vote in the upcoming general elections had until May 31 to crosscheck the information they provided during a biometric voter registration drive which ended on March 26.
The registration excircle, which ran concurrently with a national ID enrolment campaign, was criticized by opposition parties as flawed, partly due to technical glitches with biometric kits. Over 450,000 new potential voters were registered during the window.
The delimitation exercise which followed the end of the voter registration also sparked criticisms. In Zimbabwe, delimitation is the carving of electoral constituencies based on voter registration figures ahead of a major election.
In a recent announcement, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) called on voters to check their details on the voter’s roll for possible correction between May 27 and 31 in all the polling stations of the country. Documents needed for the verification were either a national ID card or a valid Zimbabwean passport.
The voter information inspection comes amid reprobation from critics that the ZEC is not functioning properly. It also comes as the date for the general elections has been fixed for August 2023 as announced by ZEC.
In an opinion write-up for ZimLive, a former Minister of Information, Prof. Jonathan Moyo, faults ZEC for the logistical challenges that befell the voter roll inspection exercise in many parts of the country, which he said warranted an extension of the May 31 deadline. This, and may other concerns, he argues, raise worries over the quality of the voter’s roll audit and the institutional, organizational and technical readiness of the ZEC in successfully managing the August polls.
“The credibility of an election starts with a credible voters roll, and a voters roll cannot be credible if it has not been freely, fairly and transparently audited by voters themselves over a reasonable time before an election,” writes Moyo.
Opposition MPs want voter registration responsibility taken back from ZEC
Apparently because of the many criticisms levelled against ZEC, there has been a push in the Zimbabwean parliament by some opposition MPs for the responsibility of overseeing voter registration to be taken away from the electoral agency and handed back to the Register General’s Office – the body that superintends over civil registration matters.
This is part of proposals the MPs are making to an Electoral Amendment Bill currently under examination, reports The Zimbabwe Mail.
Per the lawmakers, taking the role away from the Registrar General’s office in the first place was ill-advised as it has led to unnecessary expenditure and duplication of functions.
Justice Minister Ziyambi Zyambi told the MPs during a debate session on the Bill that voter registration was taken away from the Registrar General’s office because of serious distrust for Tobaiwa Mudede, a one-time head of the institution. Another debate on the Electoral Amendment Bill was due to take place on May 30.
In the meantime, one other key proposal in the bill calls for an end to the use of a driver’s license as proof of identity for voter registration.