Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process (Update 7) (29 October-06 November 2017)

Source: 8 November 2017Elections, Human Rights

1.0 Introduction 

Heal Zimbabwe through its resident human rights monitors located in all the country’s 10 provinces is monitoring the environment during the voter registration exercise. This is being done with the objective of monitoring the environment and report on any cases of human rights violations during the process as well as making referrals where possible for redress. In 2016, HZT established an early warning and early response system for easy detection and response to cases of human rights violations. This report gives an account of the violations that were recorded in the first week of the second phase of the registration exercise.

Below is an update of the voter registration process from 29 October -06 November 2017:

Mashonaland Central

Muzarabani North ward 5
ZANU PF District Chairman Denshot Mazarura on the 29th of October 2017 ordered community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips. Mazarura also highlighted that those who refuse to submit their serial numbers would be branded opposition party supporters and risked being denied farming inputs. This took place in Mutunda village.

Shamva North ward 7
On the 30th of October 2017, Village heads Kenius Kangidza and Kadzungu forced community members to submit voter registration slips. This took place at Preschool registration centre. The two village heads indicated that those who refuse shall be denied food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare.

Mbire ward 12
On the 29th of October 2017, Village head Sandauka’s Secretary John Tembo from Jurujena village ordered all registered people to submit their serial numbers to him. Tembo also highlighted that those who refuse were going to have their names removed from the food aid beneficiaries list. When Heal Zimbabwe made a follow up on the story, Tembo admitted to the act but however professed ignorance over what the serial numbers were going to be used for. Tembo also disclosed that he received the directive from ZANU PF District Chairperson Wellington Mukawa.

Mt Darwin ward 9
Councillor Mutyambizi Mabasa on the 6th of November 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to him during a meeting conducted at Dotito Growth Point. Councillor Mutyambizi threatened that those who refuse shall be denied food aid and farming inputs.

Mashonaland East

Murehwa West ward 14
Village head Hebert Mapanga on the 30th of October 2017 moved around the ward forcing community members to pay $0.50cents for them to acquire proof of residence. Village head Mapanga also announced that those who continue to support opposition parties in his area were going to be denied food aid.

Murehwa North ward 16
ZANU PF ward chairman, Temba Chimombe and Kennedy Tanyanyiwa on the 5th of November 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to them at Mukwe Business Centre. The two announced that ZANU PF was going to use the serial numbers to ascertain the Presidential candidates’ people would have voted for in the 2018 elections.

Mudzi North ward 10
Councillor David Kufakwemba on the 4th of November 2017 ordered community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips during a meeting conducted at Nyamayaruka business centre. Councillor Kufakwemba also announced that only people who had submitted serial numbers to him were going to receive food aid from the Ministry of Social welfare.

Mudzi North ward 1
On the 4th of November 2017, Councillor Boy Nyamande (ZANU PF) ordered community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips during a meeting conducted at Nyamapanda Primary School. The Councillor also told those present that the food aid from the Ministry of Social welfare was only going to be distributed to people who had submitted their serial numbers.

Mutoko ward 11
Village head Frank Mavhurume on the 5th of November 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to him. Village head Mavhurume further highlighted that all opposition supporters will be assaulted in the upcoming elections if they fail to vote for ZANU PF.

Midlands Province

Gokwe North ward 19
ZANU PF District Chairperson Atinos Munyira on the 29th of October 2017 ordered village heads in the ward to compile voter registration slips from community members. Munyira also announced that any Village head who defy the directive will be removed from his or her post.

Gokwe ward 19
ZANU PF District Chairman, Atnos Munyira on the 5th of November 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips during a meeting conducted at Makotore Business Centre. Munyira also announced that people who refuse with their voter registration serial numbers shall be branded opposition party supporters and risked being denied farming inputs.

Masvingo Province

Bikita East ward 25
Councillor Aaron Manhondo on the 30th of October 2017 intimidated community members during a ZANU PF meeting conducted at Uteke Business Centre. He highlighted that BVR kits will disclose where people would have voted for. Councillor Manhondo further highlighted that all community members should submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to him if they wanted to continue receiving food aid.

Manicaland Province

Mutasa South ward 26
ZANU PF Chairlady, Enety Mandiringana, Village head Secretary Mrs Elizabeth Chidawanyika, and Taurai Nota, a youth officer on the 29th of October 2017 compiled names and serial numbers of people who were registering to vote at St Georges Primary School. Mandiringana also announced that the serial numbers were going to assist ZANU PF to identify all opposition party supporters in the ward.

Nyanga south ward 30
On 30 October 2017, Village head Johannes Mudondo refused to issue proof of residence to MDC-T supporters. He also announced that he was only going to issue proof of residence to ZANU PF supporters only and further highlighted that anyone who supports opposition parties in his ward would be denied food aid.

Nyanga south ward 30
On 05 November 2017, Village head Thomas Saunyama and Margret Matamba, a ZANU PF activist forced people who had come for a meeting at the Village head’s homestead to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips. Matamba also instructed the Village head to deny food aid to people who refuse to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to him.

Nyanga South ward 17
ZANU PF Chairman Isaac Gadzani on the 30th of October 2017 ordered community members to submit voter registration slips to him soon after registering. Gadzani further highlighted that the BVR kits will disclose where people would have voted for.

Nyanga North ward 3
Village head Never Mabvuramiti on the 6th of November 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to him. He also announced that those who defy the directive were not going to continue receiving food aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare.

Chimanimani West ward 3
ZANU PF ward chairperson identified as Ms Mukwasamombe and ZANU PF ward Political Commissar Joshua Gwenzi on the 4th of November 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to them. Mrs Mukwasamombe further highlighted that the BVR kits will detect where people would have voted for and announced that anyone who would vote for MDC-T in the 2018 elections will be assaulted.

Matabeleland North Province

Tsholotsho North ward 3
On the 2th of November 2017, Albert Mpofu a war veteran forced people in Ganyani village to submit serial numbers of voter registration slips to him. Mpofu announced that those who defy the directive would be labelled opposition party supporters and risked being denied food aid.

2.0 Heal Zimbabwe’s Interventions

Heal Zimbabwe strives to protect and assist the affected people so that they are able to access justice and requisite social services. In the period under review, the organisation responded to the recorded human rights cases by facilitating for victims to report to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Police. Heal Zimbabwe as part of its target advocacy initiative, engaged all the recorded perpetrators imploring them to desist from denying community members their democratic rights of free participation in electoral processes. Specific examples include that of Mbire ward 12 where village head Sandauka’s Secretary John Tembo admitted to compiling serial numbers of voter registration slips and highlighted that he was not aware what the names were going to be used for. Tembo further disclosed that the directive came from the ZANU PF District Chairman Wellington Mukawa.

Heal Zimbabwe also urged perpetrators of human rights violations to desist from intimidating community members as this disturbs the prevalence of peace and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution. Added to this, Heal Zimbabwe has also submitted reports of recorded human rights violations to the ZHRC and ZEC as part of lobbying and advocacy. In cases where Village heads were charging a fee for proof of residence, Heal Zimbabwe advised community members to utilise other avenues to acquire proof of residence such as letters stamped by headmasters, medical cards and Commissioner of Oaths or even use letters from family members or friends as stated in the Voter Registration Regulation Statutory Instrument 85 of 2017.

As a strategy of countering the intimidation, harassment, myths and falsehoods around the BVR process in rural communities, HZT under its national peace campaign will from the 11th of November 2017 embark on a series of peace concerts that will afford community members to know more about the BVR and the role of Independent Commissions that support democracy such as ZEC and ZHRC. The concerts aim to also raise awareness on the importance of peaceful participation in the electoral processes. The peace concerts will be implemented in 15 target districts and will also offer an opportunity for duty bearers to make public pledges for peace.

2.1 Conclusion

Heal Zimbabwe has observed that the BVR related human rights violations being recorded across the country points to the lack of a robust voter education exercise. An extensive voter education campaign by ZEC would have helped to demystify the falsehoods, myths and threats being peddled around the BVR process. HZT is worried by the lack of information especially in rural areas. The organization will continue to monitor human rights violations around the registration process especially in political hotspots areas. The organisation’s 24 hour rapid response system is also on standby to respond to the cases that requires immediate assistance.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe