5 February 2018 – The Election Resource Centre (ERC), Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT), Women Institute in Leadership Development (WILD), National Youth for Development Trust (NYDT) and Christian Alliance note the significant increase in voter registration figures over the last three weeks. The overwhelming response to the voter registration mop up exercise, which has seen over 260 000 new registrants, is a reflection of citizen’s willingness to participate in the forthcoming elections. The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) welcome efforts to enhance citizen participation and inclusivity by ensuring that marginalized groups such as former aliens who were previously disenfranchised have access to the voter registration exercise. While extension of the mass voter registration exercise is commendable, ERC, HZT, WILD, NYDT and Christian Alliance believe that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must address administrative, environmental and legislative issues surrounding the process.
- The CSOs note limited changes regarding administration of the voter registration mop up exercise. While the mop up exercise was meant to increase access by citizens particularly former aliens, over 6 000 “aliens” have so far been turned away on the basis of failing to submit long birth certificates.
- ZEC’s operational plan for the 2018 harmonised elections remains outstanding.
- Access to documentation such as birth certificates and National Identity Documents (IDs) necessary for voter registration remains limited to citizens.
- Absence of momentum on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise – ZEC continues to employ conventional mobilization strategies that do not appeal to sub groups of youth and people with disabilities.
- Electoral processes such as voter registration continue to be implemented in the absence of an Electoral Act that is fully aligned with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
- The CSOs note with concern continued failure by ZEC, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to effectively address election related violence and intimidation associated with the demand for voter registration slips’ serial numbers by traditional leaders and the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF).
- The CSOs are extremely disturbed by recent reports of election related violence by political parties.
The CSOs call upon election authorities to:
- Enhance access of BVR to all eligible citizens including former aliens, persons with disabilities, women and youth.
- Ensure that voter registration, inspection of the Voters’ Roll, election campaign and the actual voting are open to all citizens, and that they be allowed to assemble without fear of violence. Political parties must adhere to the Political Parties and Candidates Code of Conduct.
- Align electoral laws with the Constitution of Zimbabwe ahead of the forthcoming elections.
- Immediately investigate and bring to book political players involved in politically motivated attacks and continued demand for voter registration serial numbers. ZEC, ZRP, and the ZHRC must remain guided by Section 133 J and H of the Electoral Act and ensure that perpetrators of election related violence and intimidation face the full wrath of the law.
- Facilitate a comprehensive voter registration process that conforms to international best practice and principles guiding voter registration.
- After the 8th of February 2018 when the mop up exercise ends, ZEC should be flexible to support CSO initiatives to increase registered voters by deploying BVR kits at events organized by CSOs.