THE draft voter registration rules revealed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have been condemned by opposition parties as a “clear and deliberate (plan) to disenfranchise a lot of Zimbabweans”.
ZEC recently published draft regulations to replace the voter registration framework used in the 2013 elections.
The guidelines were promptly denounced by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) – a coalition of opposition political parties.
Said NERA legal chairman Douglas Mwonzora, “It was expected that the new voter registration rules would be designed to make voter registration much easier and simpler to but the new system is going to be polling-station based.
“This means a person is registered to vote at a particular polling station only (which) is in contradiction with what ZEC and political parties agreed upon.
“The agreement was that the maximum practical number of people who can successfully vote at a single polling station per day would not exceed 1,000.
“Incomprehensibly, ZEC has increased the number of people to be registered and therefore eligible to vote at a particular station to 1,500.”
Mwonzora, who is also the opposition MDC-T’s secretary general, said the new regulations would result in some eligible voters failing to cast their vote due to time constraints.
“Clearly, history tells us that Harare and (other) urban areas will be affected most. By the time of closure of voting, long queues of people waiting to cast their votes will still be there,” he said in a statement.
“One wonders why ZEC is reneging on the agreement it had with political parties to reduce the maximum number of people who can be registered at one polling station to 1,000.
“Strangely, the same regulations provide that ZEC can alter any of the polling area boundaries at any time.”
The opposition is also opposed to the requirement that a person should be physically present when registering as well as provide proof of residence.
Mwonzora says the regulations do not state how a person can prove residence, “suffice to say under these rules, a Zimbabwean not resident in Zimbabwe will not be able to register as voter.”
“Voters may not know the biometric features to supply and this is bound to create a possibility of malicious omissions by registration officers,” he added.
Opposition political parties have been pushing for reforms to “even playing field” against the ruling Zanu PF in crunch elections due next year.