JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa says there would be no re-registration of voters to create ward specific voters rolls for next year’s harmonise
d elections as those already registered would simply be moved into new wards and constituencies.
This flies in the face of expectations by the opposition MDC, that voters would be registered to create a new and transparent voters roll before the election in March next year. The MDC wants the voters roll revamped to flash out “ghost voters” whom it claims are used by Zanu PF for electoral rigging purposes.
Responding to questions by MDC legislator Nelson Chamisa on how the proposed ward-specific rolls would be created and the timeframe for delimitation, Chinamasa said already registered voters would be put under wards and constituencies to be determined during the delimitation exercise.
He said delimitation, which will now be done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), was expected to be completed by December after a mop-up mobile voter registration exercise in 939 areas not fully covered in an earlier exercise in June to August.
Only 109 999 people countrywide were registered as voters during that exercise.
Said Chinamasa: “There will be no re-registration of voters to create ward-specific voters rolls. As you may know, when you are registered you are registered to a particular group which is the physical unit area and when they do the delimitation, whether of wards or constituencies, it is a mere exercise of moving a whole block or part of the block in order to create a constituency.
“So you are registered into a block and you either move into a constituency, the total block, quarter block or half block of the constituency.”
On delimitation, Chinamasa said, the exercise would be carried out soon after President Mugabe assented to the recently passed Constitutional Amendment Bill (No 18).
Chinamasa had earlier told parliament: “The point to note is that we are introducing with this change a ward voters roll, a ward-specific voters roll. In other words, a voter can only vote in the ward in which he or she is resident and registered to vote.”
Stakeholders last week said the proposed system would prejudice many voters, as the delimitation exercise was yet to start.
They had said this would require an extended re-registration exercise supported by a massive awareness campaign to enlighten the electorate on the new wards and constituencies.
The ZEC is expected to come up with 90 new parliamentary constituencies, 10 senatorial constituencies and new boundaries for urban and rural council wards following the passing of the Bill.
Under the Bill, parliamentary constituencies will be increased from the current 150 to 210 while the Senate’s directly elected members go up from 50 to 60 with six senators per province.
ZEC last month announced the extension of the voter registration exercise for three weeks to cover specific areas where there were logistical problems during the June 18-August 17 mobile voter registration period.
However, it has not yet set the dates, amid concerns from prospective voters who were left out or have moved that they might be prejudiced of their right to vote.
In a written response to questions by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, ZEC deputy chief elections officer Ultoile Silaigwana said a mop-up registration exercise would be carried out and the dates and places to be covered would be announced in due course.
“The voters roll will definitely be ready by election time because an inspection of the voters roll will be conducted in due course. This programme will also cater for those who want to transfer and those who want to register as voters,” he said.
Various political party officials, observers and prospective voters said the mop-up exercise should be nationwide as the previous exercise was not very effective due to logistical problems comprising transport and communication, especially in rural areas.
In his response to a question by MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese on the outcome of the recent mobile voter registration exercise, Chinamasa said 109 999 voters were registered nationwide compared to 120 283 in 2004.
He attributed this year’s lower figure to the fact that this year’s exercise was held barely three years after the previous one, which was held after five years.
“The second explanation for the difference is that the 2004 exercise was done over a period two weeks longer than was the period this year. This (year’s) mobile voter registration blitz turned out, in effect to be an exercise in the registration of births and issuance of national identity cards.”