The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) continues to observe the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) countrywide.  It has been a week after ZEC started the nationwide blitz. ZESN deployed an observer in every ward covered by phase 1 of the voter registration process. ZESN observations for the previous four days are as follows;

Registration Process

The time taken to process a single registrant continues to take more time in most parts of the country beyond the 4 minutes per person targeted by ZEC. However, faster processing times have been recorded in places such as Epworth ward 1, Epworth Primary School over 200 people were registered on the 16 October 2017.

Nevertheless, ZESN commends ZEC on how they are making sure that every ward under phase 1 has a functioning registration center and kit. ZEC is also making sure that kits in areas were there is low turnout are moved to areas with more traffic. However, ZEC should share this information with the public so that people know of these changes. The following shows the total number of registrants that had registered by 15 October 2017 by Province:

Bulawayo 13,119, Harare 55,201, Manicaland 87,882, Mashonaland Central 66,511, Mashonaland East 93,309, Mashonaland West 31,432, Masvingo 55,470, Matebeleland North 15,114, Matabeleland South 16,883 and Midlands 48,483. Thus the total number of people who have registered in phase one is 485,827 as reported on ZTV on 16 October 2017. It is however worth noting that ZEC needs to disaggregate data according to gender at national level.

Voter Registration Equipment and Materials

There are still reports of ZEC equipment malfunctioning  and registration forms running out during the registration process. For instance in Mount Darwin North Ward 3 the laptop malfunctioned in the morning bringing registration to a halt. Registration only resumed at 4pm after a replacement was delivered to the center. In Hurungwe Central, ward 4 at Chipango Primary School registration stopped for a few hours when the center ran out of VR1 form. Registration resumed after the center received a new consignment of VR1 forms.

Turnout

ZESN observed that the numbers of people coming out to register is steadily increasing. For instance the centers located at Epworth Primary, Mbare Remembrance Hall, Highfield Primary all registered more than 100 people each by the end of day 16 October 2017.

Turned Away Registrants – ZESN has so far observed that the number of turned away registrants is very low countrywide. Some of the major reasons why 3 or 4 people are being turned away in some centers are mainly of ineligible or wrong ID documents and underage registrants.

Commissioner of Oaths – ZEC should call upon Commissioners of Oaths to volunteer their services at every center so as to allow a smooth flow of the process. According to law, legal practitioners are not the only commissioners of oaths.  Statutory Instrument 648/1983 gives a list of people who are commissioners of oaths and they are listed below:

EX-OFFICIO COMMISSIONERS OF OATHS FOR ALL DISTRICTS IN ZIMBABWE

  1. Member of Parliament
  2. Provincial Administrators
  3. Legal practitioner
  4. Magistrate
  5. District Administrator
  6. Government medical officer
  7. Police officer of the rank of chief inspector or inspector
  8. District social welfare officer
  9. Senior immigration officer
  10. Land surveyor registered in terms of the Land Surveyors Registration Act
  11. Prison officer of or above the rank of Superintendent
  12. Public accountant of three years’ standing registered in terms of the Accountants Act
  13. Under Secretary (Development) in the Ministry of Local Government and Town Planning
  14. Chief Vehicle Inspectors
  15. All public accountants and auditors registered in terms of the Public Accountants and Auditors Act
  16. Chief Immigration Officer

Signage and Publicity of Registration Centers

ZEC has to improve on its signage. Up to now there are still people who do not know the whereabouts of registration centres within their wards. Information pertaining to the start and end dates of the respective phases has also not been adequately disseminated.

Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network