Voter reg: ERC survey finds cause for concern

Following increasing reports of people being unable to register to vote, the Election Resource Centre did a quick assessment of accessibility to voter registration in Harare. It says its findings “point to a very disturbing pattern in the voter registration process”.

The Electoral Act says voter registration must be conducted continuously, but the ERC receives numerous reports of registration centres being closed.

The ERC found that some registration centres, like Hatfield, were closed and officials gave unsatisfactory reasons to the effect that the registration process had not yet started.

It also found inconsistencies in the provision of services, with most centres allocating an average of four hours a day for the process – frustrating potential registrants who are often forced to wait for long hours.

“The voter registration exercise is treated as a peripheral issue in the centres visited,” says the report.

ERC also discovered an emerging pattern of vote buying through housing cooperatives. “Those responsible for allocating land demand the intended beneficiaries to be registered voters first. This exposes potential voters to manipulation by certain political parties and threatens their freedom of choice and association,” it said.

The assessment also established that access to registration services was at times administered in a partisan manner with suspected supporters of some political parties and young people facing frustrating hurdles when attempting to register.

Centres inaccessible

Mabvuku – obscurely located at Chizhanje Village, poor road linkages worsened by lack of clear information highlighting the availability of voter registration services.

Kuwadzana – right next to a Zanu (PF) office. Potential registrants prominently see a ZANU (PF) sign on the building before realizing the existence of a registration centre – potentially discourages and inculcates fear in registrants.

The election management body, ZEC, and the Registrar are mandated to provide unhindered access to registration to all potential voters. The ERC urged them to ensure that continuous registration of voters is possible at all designated centres and that centres are situated at accessible, neutral places.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *