By Tendai Kamhungira
Opposition parties have petitioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), challenging Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede’s pronouncement that metal identity cards (IDs) will not be used in the voter registration process ahead of the 2018 elections.
Coalescing under the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera) Youth Forum banner, the parties argue that in terms of electoral regulations, the RG is not qualified to make any official pronouncements on election related issues.
“We applaud the announcement by the RG that a nationwide programme of issuing out registration documents, particularly birth certificates and national identity cards will be commencing on Monday, September 4, 2017 in preparation of the oncoming biometric voter registration.
“However, we are greatly disturbed by the remarks that holders of metal identity cards will have to replace their IDs with plastic ones to be able to vote. The registrar cites that the metal IDs are not machine readable hence the need for holders of the same to replace them,” Nera Youth Forum head of information and publicity, Davis Mukushwa, said in an August 31 letter.
This comes as Zec is at the cusp of opening the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise for prospective voters for the crucial 2018 polls.
However, Nera Youth Forum is concerned about Mudede’s pronouncements.
“It is our solemn understanding that in accordance with the electoral regulations, namely the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Electoral Act and such other substantive regulations, (Mr) Mudede is not qualified to make any official pronouncements on election related matters. Furthermore, the issue of metal IDs never surfaced at the tendering, validation and testing stages of BVR,” Mukushwa said.
Zec is yet to respond.
Nera Youth Forum’s letter also comes after civic group, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), has since challenged Mudede to provide ample information on the new development.
“Zesn calls for more comprehensive information specifying whether the replacements of the IDs will be made at a cost as well as other key information on the operational schedule for the exercise.
“Furthermore, Zesn requests the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to provide information to the public on its position regarding these developments about ‘aliens’ and the use of metal IDs given that they have a direct impact on the voter registration process, which the commission is about to embark on in a few weeks’ time,” said Zesn.
Another civil society group, ZimRights, yesterday also said there is need for adequate information on implementation of the process.
“The RG’s office should carry out robust information campaigns using different information channels during the coming three months in which the mobile registration will be taking place,” Zimrights said in a statement, adding that it is a daunting task for those with metal IDs to change to plastic ones in time to register for the next elections.
In a statement recently, Zec said they will only register a person with the requisite identification documents and proof of residence or an affidavit signed by a commissioner of oaths.
“In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, aliens do not qualify for registration. One has to be a citizen who is 18 years and above to be registered as a voter. Zec is calling upon all those who are eligible for citizenship status before the registration exercise commences.
“Zec will not, during the biometric voter registration exercise, register any person whose citizenship is not confirmed by the national ID or other identity document lawfully issued by the registrar-general. Zec cannot grant or deny citizenship. Zec can only register adult citizens as confirmed by the registrar,” the Commission’s chief elections officer, Constance Chigwamba, said. Daily News