Voters’ Roll Inspection and Voter Registration: Update 1

ZEC Opens Provisional Voters’ Roll for Inspection

In accordance with Section 21 of the Electoral Act, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), on 19 May 2018, launched the inspection of the voters’ roll exercise ahead of the forthcoming harmonised elections. ZEC also established 2 018 ward registration centres to run concurrently with inspection of the voters’ roll. Centres are scheduled to open between 07:00 – 17:00 hours. While the process has widely been peaceful and orderly, the first two days were largely chaotic as most centres had not been fully operationalized. Disorder in the form of lack of voter registration materials and failure to open the centres on time was noted on 19 May 2018 at some centres in Vainona, Haig Park, Kuwadzana, Warren Park, Kambuzuma and Glen View in Harare. By 10:30 hours and 09:00 hours, materials such as the voters’ roll, Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits and VR 9, VR 3 and VR1 forms were still not available at Haig Park and Vainona ward centres, respectively. At the few centres where BVR kits were available, there was no registration taking place as ZEC registration officers reported that the kits were yet to be activated. ERC also noted inadequate signage to direct citizens to registration and inspection centers at Malbereign Girls High School, Alfred Beit Primary School and Widdicomb Primary School in Harare.

Inspection of the voters’ roll is scheduled to run until 29 May 2018, at 10 771 centres across Zimbabwe.

Key Observations

  1. Peaceful political environment, no cases of political violence and intimidation have been recorded by ERC.
  2. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has reportedly established a national and provincial command centres to monitor the electoral environment and respond accordingly. In addition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is also on the ground, monitoring human rights violations related to voters’ roll inspection and voter registration that might arise. This in in accordance with Section 133J of the Electoral Act.
  3. No publicised regulations and procedures for voters’ roll inspection.
  4. Inadequate voter education as the general public is not fully aware of requirements and procedures guiding the exercise.
  5. Inadequate training for ZEC personnel who are reportedly failing to address cases of omitted names.
  6. Generally low numbers of citizens physically inspecting the voters’ roll at ZEC inspection centres. This could be attributed to the four methods of checking one’s name on the voters’ roll namely; an SMS from ZEC, a USSD platform for the citizen to check (*265#), physical checking at the polling station and an online platform.  3.4 million registered voters registered their numbers with ZEC and are receiving SMS confirmations from the Commission, while others are preferring to use the USSD platform. ZEC reports indicate that 719 387 had used the USSD platform to check their details on the voters’ roll while 3 256 440 had received bulk SMS’ by 22 May 2018.
  7. A significant number of people are yet to register as voters as evidenced by increased request for voter registration requirements and centres through the ERC Call Centre.
  8. ERC has noted that those that registered on 6 April 2018 or after will only appear on the final voters’ roll.
  9. Section 21 of the Electoral Act provides for inspection of the voters’ roll. ERC notes that ZEC has not pasted voters’ rolls outside inspection centres as is standard practice across the world. This deprives the public of a free process as mandated by Section 21 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act.

Recommendations

  1. ZEC must paste voters’ rolls outside inspection centres to allow the general public free access to the same.
  2. ZEC is encouraged to make public, regulations and procedures guiding the exercise.
  3. ZEC and other election stakeholders are encouraged to intensify voter education for both inspection of the voters’ roll and voter registration. Emphasis must be on importance of citizen participation in these electoral processes.

….ERC….

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