ZEC Should Decentralise Voter Registration: ZESN

Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to decentralise voter registration from provincial and district centres to enable more citizens to register.

Voter registration has been reported to be low around the country, with electorates complaining about the accessibility of registration centres. Citizens are complaining that the registration offices are few and are not centrally located resulting in some people having to travel long distances to register to vote. In Bulawayo, registration is taking place at ZEC offices situated in Famona, resulting in most residents having to board twice to access the services.

In its latest situational report, ZESN noted that decentralising registration centres to areas closer to the people would allow easy access thereby encouraging more people who are eligible to vote to register.

“On July 23, 2021, ZEC announced a temporary closure of its offices across the country from July 26 to August 8, 2021, as “a mitigatory measure to contain the further spread of Covid-19 among internal and external stakeholders”. After the reopening of ZEC offices, voter registration was reported to be low across the country with the centralization of registration being cited as a major challenge,” the report read.

“In many constituencies, the ZEC Provincial and District offices are far away from the people and in many constituencies, there are no ZEC offices. Eligible voters are encouraged to register at the currently available registration centres, while those who are already registered are encouraged to check their registration details using the virtual platforms that ZEC provided.”

ZESN suggested that given the extended suspension of by-elections on account of Covid-19, the government should consider a targeted vaccination program in constituencies and wards where elected representatives were either recalled or died so as to pave way for the holding of by-elections to ensure adequate representation of the citizenry.

“The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs indicated that by-elections remain suspended and would only be held after the country achieves herd immunity in terms of vaccination against Covid-19,” the report read.

“However, MDC-A MP for Dzivarasekwa, Edwin Mushoriwa, argued that the failure to conduct by-elections in a country with at least 20% of the people not represented was putting the democratic ethos of the country in jeopardy. He added that the stopping of by-elections was questionable as other gatherings were ongoing, citing church gatherings of some apostolic sects.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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