By Shingirai Vambe
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said only 2515 Zimbabweans registered to vote soon after elections under the Bio-metric Voter Registration BVR exercise which started in 2018.
ZEC spokesperson, Justine Manyau told Post on Sunday that the registration exercise has been on going and only interrupted in the first phase of covid-19 lockdown.
“It was briefly interrupted during the first and second phase of the Covid-19 induced lockdown but resumed after the Commission came up with the Covid-19 Policy on Electoral Activities in August whose contents were derived from stakeholders” Manyau said.
This came at a time when citizens are looking forward to exercise their right in the by-elections which are supposed to be held when a member of Parliament is relieved off his/her duties, resigned or has died and in this case, several constituencies are currently unrepresented despite the fact that a constituency should not go for more than 21 days without representation in parliament.
Earlier ZEC had highlighted that it was ready to conduct by-election, but later changed following directive from the Ministry of Health minister as well as Vice President of Zimbabwe Constantine Chiwenga, on the provisions and regulations of the Covid pandemic.
In response the Clerk of Parliament, kennedy chokuda told this publication that ZEC is the responsible authority for the filling in of vacancies which are not only in parliament but local authorities as well.
“Parliament is always guided by the Constitution, various doctrines and practices including the doctrine of separation of powers. In this regard Parliament defers to the responsible authorities, ZEC, who are responsible for filling in vacancies”.
This publication failed to get total number of registered voters, those who registered and voted in 2018 and those who registered soon after election, ZEC could not give a total figure of registered voters. On those whore recently registered, 1221 were females and 1294 were males.
“Voter education and publicity programmes, the Commission continuously reminds the electorate that voter registration is a continuous exercise through posts on its social media platforms” Manyau said.
He further Highlited that Prospective registrants should provide proof of identity, citizenship and residence at the voter registration centre. A national identity document or a valid Zimbabwe passport provides both proof of identity and citizenship while utility bills, affidavits and letters from village heads can be used as proof of residence.
Election Resource Centre Zimbabwe (ERC) is of a different opinion, citing low voter education by ZEC, thus failing to fulfil its mandate as an independent body.
Senior Programs Officer of the ERC, Solomon Bobosibunu said “Citizens are expected to get voter education and awareness from the ZEC as the authority responsible for electoral processes in the country. CSO’s, CBO’s, FBO’s and other interested parties can only play a complimentary role to the ZEC”
“The awareness is very low considering the numbers we are getting registered, that is in 2019 only a paltry 1444 with some districts having less than 10 registrants in the whole 365 days. This shows lack of awareness of the process. ERC did a research on this area and its an area of concern”.
He Further highlighted that ZEC must always be guided by the laws that established the institution.
“As an independent commission they are supposed to make independent decisions that are supported by the law. Elections are mandatory as they provide for citizens to be represented at different levels while also ensuring their voice in the governance of the country. ERC contends that if there is any justifiable reason for their deferment a Court Order must be sort. Political parties can conduct their activities as long as they abide by the set rules in their respective constitutions and they do not violate national laws they can do so” added Bobosibunu.
With the just ended Zanu pf DCC election, Political Analyst, Alexender Rusero said there isn’t much on them, it is what they are and will remain, DCCs nothing much.
“The chaotic nature of DCC at party level is a microcosm of the macrocosm. Zimbabwe or ZEC can’t be better than Zanu pf, they can’t be exceptionals in circumstances they have remained mere extensions of Zanu pf.
“It shows you what are the priorities of Zanu pf, Its about power consolidation and not democratic consolidation” Rusero said