#BVR Diaries: End of first week blitz

After four days of implementing the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) phase one blitz, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has noted worrying electoral malpractices that are likely to compromise or completely deprive Zimbabwean citizens of their right to vote in the upcoming 2018 elections. ZPP is particularly disturbed by the increasing cases of intimidation at a time all Zimbabweans are supposed to be registering to vote for the elections in 2018. Section 67 states that every Zimbabwean citizen who is eighteen years and above has the right to vote in all elections.

Section 133A of the Electoral Act defines intimidation as (a) inflicting or threatening to inflict bodily injury upon a person, (b) abducting a person or detaining a person against his / her will (c) causing or threatening to cause unlawful damage to a person’s property (d) withholding or threatening to withhold from a person any assistance or benefit to which that person is legally entitled or (e) illegally doing or threatening to do anything to the disadvantage of a person. The act that compels or attempts to compel a person or persons generally i) to vote for a political party or candidate or ii) not to vote.

Incidents of systematic intimidation and harassment through misinformation have been reported particularly in rural areas since several months back but they are reaching a high note since the rolling out of the Biometric Voter Registration. The perpetrators are reported to be mainly Zanu PF youths and leadership, traditional leaders as well as youth officers. Considering the above there is need to create enforceable punitive measures to eliminate political violence and build a conducive political environment which guarantees enjoyment of fundamental rights.

ZPP has noted with concern that after registering people are asked to provide serial numbers of their registration slips by Zanu PF youths. Incidents have been reported in Budiriro, Chitungwiza and Mutoko South. This can be construed as an act of intimidation as it scares the voter into thinking that their identities may be revealed during voting. The youths have threatened retribution against those who prejudice the ruling party during the election. In some areas prospective voters are being told that BVR enables the ruling party to determine how people will vote.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has not provided any mitigatory measures to counter this misinformation. ZPP recognises that according to the law the special investigation committees must be established when an election is called but with increasing cases of intimidation and considering that BVR is new it might be prudent to establish the committee immediately as a mitigatory measure.

The ZPP urges ZEC to roll out a comprehensive, inclusive and continuous voter education and open to other stakeholders and all voters to inform citizens how the BVR machines work so as to dispel the myths being propagated by some political players.

ZPP is a Non Governmental Organization that was founded in 2000 by a group of faith based and human rights NGOs working and interested in human rights and peace-building initiatives. ZPP has become a vehicle for civic interventions in times of political crises. In particular, ZPP seeks to monitor and document incidents of human rights violations and breaches of peace.

If you are concerned about acts of violence in your community, ZPP encourages you to get in touch with us on Hotline and WhatsApp numbers: +263 774 883 406 and +263 774 883 417 Toll Free: 080 80199

Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)