WHILE Zimbabwe is supposedly busy laying the groundwork for credible, free and fair elections to usher in a post-coalition government, the country’s muddled mobile voter registration exercise heralds chaotic polls with yet another disputed outcome.
Zimbabwe Independent Editorial
The ultimate deliverable of the Global Political Agreement is a peaceful polls whose result can stand the litmus test of domestic and international scrutiny, paving the way for a government of the majority’s choice.
Such elections can only be delivered through transparent voter registration exercise that allows as many eligible citizens as possible, with minimal hassles, to exercise their inalienable right to universal suffrage.
But if the current voter registration shambles are anything to go by, another disputed polls seem to be in the offing as the exercise has been a veritable dog’s breakfast thus far.
As pointed out by the Election Resource Centre, the guiding principles for a sound voter registration exercise include integrity, comprehensiveness, accuracy, accessibility, an informed public, transparency, security and accountability.
The current Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)-driven exercise does not meet these principles.
Instead, we have brickbats flying between the major poll stakeholders including the Finance ministry, Zec, the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office and major political parties.
Hurdles strewn in the path to a successful registration exercise include alleged disproportionate distribution of mobile voter registration teams. The voter registration challenges have been tackled in several cabinet meetings where they are now a standing agenda item.
Disconcertingly, there appears to be a yawning disconnect between re-assuring cabinet resolutions over voter registration, and the implementation of such resolutions by the RG’s Office.
As rightly observed by ERC, the process is lacking in awareness and publicity pertaining to when and where the registration process is underway, and what services are being rendered by the mobile teams.
The exercise lacks a holistic approach, as registration teams are, for instance, not issuing birth certificates which are a pre-requisite for one to obtain an ID, itself a requirement for one to register as a voter.
Rigging conspiracy theorists have already noted that most urban areas — strongholds of the MDC — initially had no designated registration centres. Government must hastily capacitate Zec to make voter registration more user-friendly.
If thousands of would-be voters mainly from the country’s uniformed forces — whose commanders are openly campaigning for Zanu PF in brazen violation of the constitution and laws — can easily be registered to vote countrywide, ordinary citizens must enjoy the same rights.
The bureaucratic bungling and systematic disenfranchisement of potential voters by the RG’s Office is a recipe for another stolen election, and a stalled Zimbabwean transition to democracy.