Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

ZEC apologises for depriving first time voters by-election chance

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has apologised for depriving thousands of prospective first-time voters an opportunity to participate in the upcoming by-elections.

ZEC admitted failing to provide adequate and accessible registration centres throughout the country. But it has already closed the voters’ roll for the by-elections slated for March 26 this year.

The Commission’s spokesperson Joyce Kazembe told NewsDay that the electoral management body had realised that several people failed to register to vote due to inaccessibility of its 72 district centres and she apologised.

“We know that there are some who stay far from the district offices who may not be able to easily access the registration centres, but for now, we are abiding by the law. But we are sorry. We apologise,” she said.

“However, the registration process is still ongoing for other elections other than the by-elections. We have 9 000 biometric voters’ registration kits that we will roll out throughout the country to ensure complete accessibility of the registration service.”

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ZEC was under-fire a few weeks ago after it initially claimed only 2 000 had registered as first-time voters throughout the year, but later revised the figure to 2 951.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairperson Andrew Makoni said a number of citizens failed to register to vote because centres were closed due to Covid-19.

He also cited the difficulty in accessing national identity documents by many prospective voters as, a factor that contributed to the low turnout.

“Most of the ZEC registration centres were closed for the greater part of last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and citizens failed to register.

“Given the low number of new people who are said to have registered to vote last year, it appears as if the voting rights are entitled to those who participated in the 2018 general elections.

“Of concern is the difficulty in accessing national identity documents which has barred a number of citizens from registering to vote,” Makoni said.