As Zimbabwe prepares for a general election in 2018, rights activists are criticizing the government’s decision to reintroduce a proof of residence requirement for voter registration, saying it disenfranchises a large number of potential voters – many of them women. After proposals to relax the rules on proof of residence drew criticism from various political parties, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in June reinstated the requirement that all voters must produce a document confirming their permanent address before they can register to vote. But activists say the move disqualifies anyone who doesn’t have a fixed address, doesn’t own property or simply can’t get hold of the necessary documentation.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s High Court, ruling in favour of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has ordered the government to allow people to vote in any constituency in a presidential election in March, the Daily News said on Saturday. “High Court Judge Rita Makarau ordered Tobaiwa Mudede, the registrar-general, to allow people to vote anywhere in the country and not necessarily in their constituencies as decreed by the government,” the privately owned newspaper said. Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), poses the biggest challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s 22 years in power in the March ballot.
The election body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), has cleared the air on identity documents for voting following recent reports implying that those with metal identity cards would not be allowed to register during the forthcoming biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise ahead of the 2018 make-or-break polls. Zec said that voter registration requirements were enshrined in Section 4 of Statutory Instrument 85 of 2017 (Voter Registration Regulations), which states that “for any Zimbabwean to register as a voter, they can use a national identity document which takes the form of a metal ID, plastic ID or a waiting pass with the holder’s photograph”.
Zimbabwean demonstrators, many who had come from other regions of the UK, gathered at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. The demonstration was one of the cross-country series of protests for #Take2Zimbabwe lined up by Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO), Restoration Of Human Rights Zimbabwe (ROHR) and Zimbabwe Citizens Initiative (ZCI). This was the third of those planned for this year, after those held in London on the 18th and Birmingham on the 22nd of April. The main goals of these demonstrations is to fight for the right to vote, to highlight corruption, and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans working together in groups are getting involved and uniting through working in partnerships, hoping that these non-violent protests will turn into voting rights, recognitions of human rights and ultimately, a real democracy.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has barred the Zimbabwe Political Parties Dialogue Forum (ZPPDF) from partaking in the Biometric Voter Registration kit testing pilot project. ZPPDF is a technical partner of the opposition National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) coalition. The forum had written to ZEC, asking to be allowed to participate in the BVR testing pilot project. Last week ZEC engaged political parties and civil society organisations that deal with elections where the electoral body announced that it was going to test the feasibility of the BVR.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has expressed dismay over the continued use of two voters’ roll in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections saying the electoral body should stop this practice. In its detailed report following the Mwenezi parliamentary election won by a Zanu PF candidate at the weekend, ZESN said, “ZESN observers reported that the Commission continued to use two voters’ rolls in the by-election a trend that has been previously observed in previous by-elections. “The main voters’ roll made up of voters captured during the registration process was used together with a supplementary roll based on the ward based voters’ roll used in the 2013 harmonised election. ZESN reiterates its position that use of one voters’ roll in future elections will greatly enhance the transparency and integrity of the electoral process.”
When the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that the country was going to adopt Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system for use in the 2018 harmonised elections most of those that have known the Government of Zimbabwe found this overture to be too good to be true. Coming as it did — a good 30 months ahead of the elections — after minimum lobbying by civic society organisation (CSOs), many became suspicious about this concession that was being readily granted by a government that was intransigently resisting effecting a raft of electoral reforms that opposition parties have been demanding. At the time, some members of these CSOs had told the Financial Gazette that the readiness with which government was willing to let go the “golden” Tobaiwa Mudede-compiled voters’ roll showed that either the ruling party strategists had identified horse and cart loopholes that could be exploited to ZANU-PF’s electoral advantage or it was just a strategy to buy time so that it could plead poverty and shortage of time on the eleventh hour when the only option left would be to revert to the tested old voters’ roll.
Opposition parties in Zimbabwe say they have no confidence in the country’s electoral commission and are calling for an international body to run the 2018 elections. Opposition parties led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai held a rally of about 500 people Wednesday in Harare at which they said the next election is heading for a dispute unless the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, or ZEC, steps aside. The rally follows the electoral commission’s request to President Robert Mugabe’s government to buy biometric voter registration equipment in preparation for Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections. The opposition says the move is unconstitutional. Opposition supporters marched to the commission’s offices to present a petition, singing on their way.
Zimbabwe’s opposition parties put on a show of unity Wednesdays, where they marched through the streets of Harare, demanding transparency and the disbanding of the state-appointed electoral commission they accuse of hindering free-and-fair elections. Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was among those marching, singing and demanding accountability from the country’s electoral commission, despite heavy police presence. Efforts to derail Wednesday’s march, proved unsuccessful as opposition parties put on a force of unity as they demanded the disbandment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which they declared lacked “impartiality and independence.”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not intending to use e-voting in the 2018 harmonised elections although it is intending to procure biometric registration kits to register voters. In an interview, ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said the biometric kits being acquired by government will only be used to capture the usual identity details plus the finger prints in order to improve the credibility of the voters roll and avoid disputed election results. Biometric voter registration (BVR) is expected to capture voters’ unique biometric features, specifically fingerprints and facial imaging which will be recorded in a database.