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Nationwide biometric voter registration begins

19 Sep, 2017 - 02:09 0 Views
Nationwide biometric voter registration begins Laison Mwinde of Chunga in Binga

The Chronicle

Laison Mwinde of Chunga in Binga yesterday registers to vote through the Biometric Voter Registration system while a Zec official looks on in Bulawayo. Aspiring voters yesterday started trooping to Zec offices to register. — Picture by Eliah Saushoma

Laison Mwinde of Chunga in Binga yesterday registers to vote through the Biometric Voter Registration system while a Zec official looks on in Bulawayo. Aspiring voters yesterday started trooping to Zec offices to register. — Picture by Eliah Saushoma

Nqobile Tshili in Bulawayo and Tendai Mugabe in Harare
THE biometric voter registration (BVR) kicked off countrywide yesterday with 24 people registering in Harare and Bulawayo and those who did not have the required proof of residence being turned away.

The Chronicle news crew visited the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) provincial offices in Bulawayo’s Famona suburb where the process was in progress.

Some people left disappointed as Zec officials told them that they could not register without all the necessary documentation.

For one to register as a voter they must produce a national ID or passport as well as the proof of residence.

Bulawayo District elections officer Mrs Sithembiso Khupe said by midday yesterday the province had registered six people.

“We started our voter registration today. Bulawayo District Centre is the only centre that is open in the province. We’ve got one machine here and we started registering at 0745. So far our registering is going very well. We’ve registered six people and turned away seven. The seven who were turned away had no proof of residence while one of them had a wrong proof of residence,” said Mrs Khupe.

She encouraged members of the public to bring all the required documents to avoid being turned away.

“We urge them to bring the correct documents, the identity card both the metal, plastic or waiting pass with a photograph or passport as well the proof of residence. For the proof of residence we are looking at the water bills, electricity bills, any bill and landlords can also write a letter and attach a bill for a person who is a lodger,” she said.

Matabeleland North provincial elections officer Mr Mark Ndlovu said registration had commenced in his province.

“Today all the seven districts of Matabeleland North, Umguza, Bubi, Nkayi, Tsholotsho, Binga, Hwange and Lupane have all established what we term static oblique continuous voter registration centres,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said people can register to vote at any voter registration centre countrywide provided that they have the required documents.

“Anyone who comes from Umguza will be registered whether they are resident in Umguza district or not. We register anyone from any part of the country and we then post details of that person whom we would have registered to his or her address where that person will vote,” he said.

Mr Laison Mwindo from Binga took advantage of BVR registration programme in Bulawayo.

“I work in Bulawayo while I come from Chunga so I can’t drive home just to register. This is convenient because there is no way I will make an excuse for not registering to vote. There is no way someone will say I did not have transport fare to my voting area to register,” said Mr Mwindo.

Mr Kwanele Ncube from Old Lobengula suburb who successfully registered to vote urged people to register to vote as voting was their right.

In Harare, as of 11am, only 18 people had registered, with a handful still waiting to be served.

Zec is targeting to register at least seven million people and a national voter registration blitz is expected to begin next month after the electoral body takes delivery of the remaining 2 600 BVR kits.

Our Harare Bureau visited Remembrance registration centre in Mbare, Harare, and established that the registration process took too long to complete (approximately 13 minutes) although Zec officials said the average was four minutes.

Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Cde Simon Khaya Moyo registered in Harare yesterday but he will vote in Mangwe district, Matabeleland South, at Sanzukwi Primary School.

In an interview at the Remembrance registration centre, Zec district elections officer Mr Taurai Gavi said: “We started our registration process smoothly this morning.

“By 7am, there was already a person who was waiting to be registered. We did not have any challenges. Our registration centre is fully equipped and we are ready. We are hoping that people will increase as the day progresses and it being the first day, we appreciate people are still trying to find their way to the registration centres but I certainly hope we will have more people.

“So far we have registered about 18 people.”

Those without proof of residence were being asked to fill in affidavit forms that would be commissioned before registering.

Zec urged those without proof of residence to have their affidavit forms signed by commissioners of oaths before visiting the registration centres to speed up the process.

“Some are coming with the relevant documents such as proof of residence but some are also hoping that Zec will give them affidavit forms to fill in and have them commissioned right there. We are encouraging voters to bring their own copies of affidavits and declare their residence to a commissioner of oaths and then bring an already filled affidavit of residence. That will be good or any other affidavit that bears your residential address.”

Commenting on the time they were taking to register people, Mr Gavi said: “I will not say the process is slow as yet but you will appreciate it being the first day people are also trying to familiarise with BVR issues, some are even afraid of the computers but I know Zimbabweans will make it up. Slowly but surely, it will speed up the process. On average we are taking four minutes to register a person. I think to us that is okay and I hope we will improve as we go on.”

Speaking to journalists soon after registering, Cde Moyo said registration officers were being thorough.

“My impression is that the registration officers are very thorough,” he said.

“There is no loophole to find anywhere. It might be a bit slow but people must be patient and as we progress, those who have not been registered must go and register.

“I am impressed because this is a new system and we shall not have, as we thought in the past, that dead bodies will register. That is not going to happen this time with the BVR system. We must commend the officers for what they are doing but we must also be patient with them. It’s quite a tough exercise. I registered in Harare for convenience.

“I know that this information will be transferred to my constituency, that is in Mangwe district and specifically where I am going to vote, that is Sanzukwi Primary School.”

Cde Moyo urged people to register early to avoid last minute rush.

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