By Tichaona Sibanda
With six days to go before the end of the 30-day mandatory voter registration exercise, thousands of potential voters countrywide are still facing bottlenecks to get their names on the voters roll.
This has led to calls for the government to overhaul the system of voter registration, by introducing biometric voter registration for the 2018 elections. They said the technology will give the electoral system more transparency and accountability, as well as increase public confidence in the democratic process.
James Maridadi, an aspiring MDC-T parliamentary candidate for Mabvuku-Tafara in Harare, said thousands of residents in the constituency are still battling to acquire the proper documents to register as voters.
The Mabvuku-Tafara constituency that Maridadi is eyeing is historically resident to thousands of Zimbabweans whose parents were mainly from Malawi and Mozambique.
The high density suburb was built in the early 1960’s to accommodate domestic workers who worked in the then Salisbury’s leafy suburbs, such as Highlands, Greendale and Eastlea. Most of these workers of foreign origin eventually married and raised children.
But the majority of these children, most of whom are now middle aged, were categorized as aliens until the adoption of a new constitution in May this year. Under the new charter they can apply for Zimbabwean citizenship. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been urging those previously classified as ‘aliens’ to apply for national identity documents reflecting the changed status.
However, thousands of them are still being disenfranchised by officials from the registrar-general’s office who are making them run around in circles to get the proper documentation.
Kimberley Nyatsanga, who’s been overseeing the MDC-T’s push to register as many people as possible in Mabvuku-Tafara, said instead of being served at the mobile registration centres, the ‘aliens’ are being told to go to Makombe building that houses the headquarters of the Registrar-General’s offices.
‘They are sent to room 100 at Makombe but the bottlenecks that they still face there is unbelievable. When the exercise started, government announced that renouncing an alien ID and getting a residence permit would cost nothing, but officials are charging $10 per individual,’ Nyatsanga said.
He revealed that thousands of potential voters in the constituency have failed to sign on to the electoral roll and are just stuck at Makombe building.
‘I think it’s a political plot to block the new and young voters, especially those they come from MDC-T strongholds in the urban areas. I can tell you that today in Mabvuku, we had over 350 people who started queuing at 4am to register but by 1pm only four residents had been served as there was just one official manning the office.
‘Yet in areas like Murehwa, they are scores of such centers registering thousands a day. Visit any ZANU PF strongholds you will see how easy it is to register,’ Nyatsanga added.
Speaking to the state media, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede said as of June 30th at least 476,313 new voters had registered, while 142,624 voters had transferred from their initial voting centers.
He said 595,746 people had inspected the voters’ roll, with 337,030 others acquiring national identification cards. He added that total number of names on the voters roll now stands at 6,082,302. SW Radio Africa