The Election Resource Centre (ERC), through its call center and accredited observers, has unearthed a voter suppression drive by the Registrar General. The drive, aimed at disenfranchising urban, Matabeleland-based and “alien” voters was confirmed by citizens who were denied, delayed or turned away from accessing identity documents, crucial for registering to vote.
At the onset of the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise, the Registrar General committed to the free and mass registration for citizens to acquire identity documents in tandem with the BVR process. The development was embraced by many citizens, who had to finance and/or travel long distances to acquire the service. However, many citizens have failed to acquire ID documents owing to poor service delivery by the Registrar General’s office. One citizen reporter identified as Mr Zvikomborero Usayi requested the ERC shuttle service, stating that he mobilized 200 young men and women in Hopley, Harare South, who needed assistance with IDs. Prior to contacting ERC, the group had individually visited the Registrar General’s office but failed to secure birth certificates and National IDs – a challenge attributed to the laissez faire approach by the office.
To ensure that the ongoing BVR conforms to voter registration principles and international best practice, particularly inclusivity, ERC has sought audience from the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede to compel him to immediately address this challenge as it is hindering citizen participation in BVR, and by extension the upcoming harmonized elections.