Outrage As ZEC Postpones Mobile Voter Registration

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By Clayton Shereni and Bulawayo Correspondent

THE independent electoral watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC) has castigated elections mother body Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over the cancellation of a voter registration blitz which was scheduled for early next month.

The postponement comes when stakeholders were bracing for the exercise.

However, in a memo dated November 17, ZEC announced the postponement with immediate effect but failed to provide the new proposed dates.

“Please be advised that the Biometric Voter Registration exercise which was scheduled for 6 December 2021 has been rescheduled to a later date to be advised in due course,” ZEC said.

“However, take note that the current Enumeration Area (EA) to Poling Area (PA) alignment and Alpha list updating exercise will continue as per schedule” the memo reads.

The ERC has castigated the postponement labelling it as a major setback as far as inclusive electoral activities are concerned.

ERC legal and advocacy officer, Takunda Tsunga told they were disappointed by the decision which he said was a step in the right direction towards voter engagement.

“The ERC notes with dismay at the postponement of the voter registration blitz. We believe that voter registration is one of the most important pre-election activities as we heard towards 2023 elections and the delimitation process because representative democracy can only be achieved through equitable representation which is a by-product of the delimitation process and this blitz was an opportunity for the electoral commission to engage the under registered areas ahead of delimitation and engage first-time voters,” Tsunga said.

“This is a missed opportunity. ZEC had the opportunity to take advantage of the low Covid-19 infection rate to test the effectiveness of the ZEC policy 19th policy on electoral activities, which is a policy that ZEC came up with which governs how electoral activities must be conducted under Covid-19 and it hasn’t been tested because there is the perpetual postponement of electoral activities. The ERC is concerned why the postponement occurred because no reasons were proffered by the commission,” Tsunga added.

ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba had last month told diplomats the electoral body will embark on countrywide mobile voter registration.

The MDC Alliance also condemned ZEC’s decision.

“The timing of the postponement of the mobile voter registration is suspicious because in December school-going children will have the opportunity to register as voters,” said Eric Gono, the MDC Alliance youth secretary for elections.

“As the MDC Alliance, we had already mobilised and prepared our youths mentally to go and register during that window period.

“We had also mobilised our diaspora structures to come and register to vote. We feel ZEC is shortchanging potential voters,” Gono added.