ZEC must scrap proof of residence requirement
By Obert Chaurura Gutu
A democratic, free and fair election entails that all eligible voters, without exception, are not deliberately and/or unnecessarily disenfranchised through a cumbersome and difficult process of registering as voters.
As such, ZEC should immediately recall the draft statutory instrument that will make it mandatory for all prospective voters to produce proof of residence. It is a fact that the majority of urban dwellers are lodgers and tenants who will not easily have access to proof of residence such as utility bills etc.
For the record, the MDC would like to state that it is one of the several stakeholders that strenuously argued against the planned move to make it mandatory for people to produce written proof of residence before they can be permitted to register as voters. In fact, the party wrote a letter to the ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau, on April 20, 2017, making our party position on this crucial issue abundantly clear. We advocate for a system whereby people must be allowed to register as voters as long as they can affirm their places of residence during the voter registration exercise.
We are acutely aware of the fact that the Zanu PF regime is already sensing a crushing and humiliating defeat in next year’s elections and as such, they are trying to influence ZEC to make it extremely difficult for most people, to register to vote. It is trite that dictatorships thrive on voter apathy as well as on voter demotivation and intimidation. The MDC will not allow ZEC to unconstitutionally usurp the right of all eligible Zimbabweans to register as voters.
We take this opportunity to, once again, call upon Zimbabweans, particularly the youth, to ensure that they register to vote as soon as ZEC commences the voter registration exercise. We are marching to a resounding and historic victory and we are very confident that a new dawn is about to arise in Zimbabwe. We should not be discouraged from registering to vote simply because the Zanu PF regime is trying every trick in the book to derail the people’s march to victory. The people’s victory is guaranteed as long as we turn out in our millions to register to vote as well as to cast our vote on polling day.
MDC: Equal Opportunities For All
Obert Chaurura Gutu
MDC National Spokesperson