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Voter registration regulations that disenfranchise homeless citizens must not be gazetted

By Kennedy Kaitano
 
Zimbabwe Election Commission Chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, has told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender and Community Development that the draft voter registration regulations are now with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentarians Affairs and would be gazetted soon.
Rita Makarau
Rita Makarau

Excuse my ignorance, but I am not sure if these are the same draft regulations which she is purported to have drafted which reportedly include a requirement that potential voters must produce proof of residence in order to be allowed to register to vote. If they are, I hope that someone has already seen sense and that clause requiring people registering to produce proof of identity has already been removed to guarantee those who make the effort to go to the registration centres their constitutional right to vote.

In the event that the requirement for people to produce proof of residence is retained, it must be resisted, because it denies people who are not to blame for not having proof of residence. Imagine the former occupants of Manzou Farm which has been taken over by Grace Mugabe and her husband Robert Mugabe? Where would these internally displaced refugees get proof of residence if they do not have a home to live in?

What is needed to enable one to vote is proof that they are Zimbabwean, and the documents needed for that will be photographic identification documents issued by Government of Zimbabwe such as the national registration card, a passport or driver’s licence. After all, we are told the bio-metric voter registration system requires would be voters to have their finger prints taken, so there is no way, if the system is properly used, a non-Zimbabwean can vote in the election as the system provides the necessary safeguards. I don’t really see the point of proof of residence here.

 

What really does the proof of residence contribute to. The only thing it does it to give multiple land owners the right to vote from anywhere they like where they have a property, while denying persons who have been displaced. The first family, for instance, can vote from Mazoe Dam, from Manzou Farm, from Zvimba, from State House because they have proof of residence or ownership of properties in those and many other places, yet the poor widow they displaced from Manzou will not have anything to prove residence anywhere.

The war of liberation was fought for, among other things, to vote for a candidate of their choice in an election, and that must be respected.

If those involved are arrogant and proceed to apply the draconian regulation, I appeal to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers or other such bodies to rescue the situation by helping those affected to challenge the regulation in the Constitutional Court as it violates their constitutional rights. This is a case for all democratic causes to come together and defend the people’s rights to vote.

Rigging of elections start off at registration, so anything that prevents rigging is the best way forward.

 
Kennedy Kaitano

 

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