Felex Share, Harare Bureau
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has received the remaining 2 600 biometric voter registration kits as it prepares to launch a blitz to register voters ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.
The latest consignment brings the number of kits the electoral body has received from Laxton Group of China for use in the creation of a biometric voters’ roll for the polls to 3 000.
The blitz is now expected to begin anytime soon with the electoral body expected to dispatch voter educators to various provinces a week before the launch.
The blitz will take over from continuous voter registration which began on September 16.
Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau confirmed the development yesterday.
“I can confirm that the kits are in the country now and that at the moment they are undergoing acceptance tests by our technicians and technical experts,” she said.
“This is meant to see that they meet the specifications that we gave to the supplier. That process should end by Wednesday and thereafter we will know how many (kits) we are accepting out of the 2 600 that have been supplied. After that we will start transporting them to the provinces and from then onwards we should be able to launch.
“ Of importance is that we want our voter educators to go ahead of the blitz. They should be on the ground for at least one week before the blitz.”
Continuous voter registration was being done using the 400 kits delivered in August.
Treasury has already released $15 million to Zec for the blitz.
Justice Makarau said as of last week only 11 000 people had been registered at the 63 Zec centres around the country.
People have been complaining that Zec officials were taking about 13 minutes to attend to one person.
Said Justice Makarau: “The process is not taking long at all. I have been just informed that Harare registration center is now taking an average of 3 minutes per person, actually beating the target of four minutes which we gave them.
“So if it is slow in some instances it might just be because of the operator. In all other centers it was just teething problems but they have already picked up speed.”
She said Zec would today meet political parties to update them on the progress.
Zec is creating a new voters’ roll after taking over the constitutional mandate from the Registrar-General’s Office.
The exercise will be conducted using biometric voter registration (BVR) technology which entails capturing a person’s fingerprints, facial features, and identity card details.
This rules out any chances of double voting.
Zec intends to register seven million voters using the new kits.
About 5,8 million people were registered in the voters’ roll used in the last harmonised elections in 2013.
The new voters’ roll being created will be polling station-based.
This means voters will only cast their ballot at the polling station at which their names appear on the voters’ roll.
The voter registration that was being used was ward-based and voters could vote at any polling station within their wards.
The Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) provides for the creation of polling station-based voter registers.
The new localised system is expected to avoid double voting, voting by ineligible people and possible inflation of votes for participating candidates.