THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is concerned by consistent reports of political intimidation, fear mongering and misinformation, targeting Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) registrants.
As the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) conducts the second phase (October 29 – November 13) of the registration blitz, ZimRights has received worrying reports from civil society monitors of unscrupulous activities in many parts of the country.
According to the reports corroborated by different monitors, unknown people and some traditional leaders suspected to be aligned to the ruling party are demanding to see registration slips and their serial numbers from new registrants, at places stationed close to the registration centres or at the headmen’s homesteads.
After taking down the numbers, the elements are coercing the citizens to vote for the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) without fail in the forthcoming elections, or they promise to give people rice, beans and fertiliser.
The shadowy elements claim the serial numbers will be used to identify those who do not follow the instruction to vote for the ruling party Zanu-PF in the 2018 harmonised elections.
These unlawful activities have been recorded, among other places, in Mt. Darwin, Muzarabani, Chizhanje in Mabvuku, and Murehwa.
Such activities greatly affect the freeness of the forthcoming elections and compromise the voter registration process currently underway.
ZimRights urges ZEC to urgently investigate political players, who are engaging in these unfortunate activities and make them stop the intimidation, as well as hold the political parties to the Code of Conduct during voter registration.
ZEC must publicly reject the poisonous misinformation, and through its voter educators, clearly counter the claims that BVR is meant to remove the secrecy of the vote.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) must also urgently investigate the reported activities as they infringe on citizens’ fundamental political rights outlined in Section 67 of the Constitution.
Previous electoral processes have similarly been marred by similar political elements, claiming they will know who citizens vote for and victimise those who do not vote for the ruling party after elections.