INDEPENDENT electoral watchdog, the Election Resources Centre (ERC), has set up national and regional information centres to monitor the ongoing biometric voter registration (BVR) and challenges faced by registrants, among other concerns.
This was revealed yesterday by ERC training and outreach manager, Solomon Bobosibunu during a roundtable breakfast discussion on BVR in Bulawayo.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU and SHARON SIBINDI
The event was jointly organised by ERC and Alpha Media Holdings — publishers of NewsDay, The Standard and Zimbabwe Independent.
Bobosibunu said its situation centres were open to all Zimbabweans and had proved to be critical sources of information on the failures of the ongoing BVR exercise, the political environment and its implications on the conduct and outcome of the upcoming 2018 elections.
“We have set up a national situation room and some regional information situation rooms, where we are collecting information from citizens and I think it has been a critical pillar in terms of consolidating the voices of citizens where materials like voter registration, BVR forms are in short supply,” Bobosibunu told delegates attending the roundtable discussion held at a local hotel.
“Citizens have been a critical player in terms of providing oversight as they for example have been reporting around voter registration to say serial numbers are being collected and this has got an implication in terms of the conduct of the elections. We would want to hear as much as possible the voice from the citizens and what is it that the communities are saying around the electoral processes.”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is running the final phase of the BVR blitz which ends on December 19.
Zec has said it has registered about three million people to date and its commissioner Rita Makarau has hinted the elections body might be forced to consider re-running a voter registration exercise where low figures were recorded.
Matabeleland is one region that has recorded a low voter registration turnout, a development participants said was not surprising, citing the region’s historical background.
“Young people here have never experienced a life where people finish school and go to work, given loans to buy houses and become landlords. They just think that Zimbabwe is a country where you live without employment opportunities and so forth.
“They see no reason to register to vote because of that, but among the biggest factors contributing to people not to register to vote here in Matabeleland is the issue of lack of identification cards and birth certificates,” said Kunashe Muchema representing Abammeli Human Rights Network.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu pressure group coordinator, Mbuso Fuzwayo added: “There is also the issue of the King, Stanley who is calling for a separate state. Literally, they are those who now think and feel they are stateless and have never been or are not part of Zimbabwe, therefore, they do not see any reason for registering to vote.”