BVR enters second phase…Commissioner of oaths status for voter reg supervisors
Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
VOTER registration supervisors will be accorded commissioner of oaths status to assist people without proof of residence documents at registration centres. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it has engaged the Ministry of Home Affairs to grant voter registration supervisors commissioner of oaths status.
ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said this yesterday during a visit of registration centres in Murehwa where she had accompanied Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe. It is envisaged that this would help eliminate the inconvenience suffered by aspiring registrants, especially in urban areas.
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“We have also observed that, mainly in the rural areas, we do not have any challenges relating to proof of residence and that the issue of commissioners of oaths is an issue we need to address mainly for our urban registrants, and it is an issue that we are already addressing,” said Justice Makarau.
“We have been in touch with the Ministry of Home Affairs. We have requested them to grant our voter registration supervisors commissioner of oaths status just for this exercise so that we may make it easy for people who may not have documents to prove their residency in the urban areas,” she said. Political parties have raised concern about the number of people being turned away at registration centres for failing to produce documents proving their residency.
They have since called on ZEC to do away with the requirement. As at October 25, 2017, about 24 130 individuals had been turned away at ZEC’s 2 075 centres countrywide. Statistics from 622 other centres were however not submitted.
Justice Makarau said 1,2 million people were registered during the phase of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise, which ended on October 26. The second phase of the programme got underway yesterday. The commission is confident of reaching the targeted seven million registrants.
“We may say the first phase went on quite well. We have registered to date a total of 1,2 million people which was beyond our expectations. We have every confidence that at the rate we are going, we will reach our target at the end of the exercise,” she said. The ZEC chairperson said registration officers were processing more people than at earlier stages of the exercise as they have become acquainted with new BVR system. Minister Bonyongwe also expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the registration exercise was progressing.
“We have been given a very thorough briefing on how they have been conducting the exercise and we started off with Mashonaland East province. The briefing was very impressive and it eliminated some of the questions that we had,” Minister Bonyongwe said.
“I was impressed by the efficiency which was shown by the ZEC officials.” He said ZEC had demonstrated their capacity to successfully register Zimbabweans despite some of the challenges they initially faced. The problem being faced by people in proving their residency, Minister Bonyongwe said, could be resolved once ZEC officers have been granted commissioners of oath status.
“ZEC itself is soon going to have its own officers attested as commissioners of oath so that where someone wants a proof of residence, which is done by a commissioner of oath, they will be able to do so, and I think that will apply mostly in the urban areas. But it’s not a problem like it was at the start of the exercise,” he said.
ZEC has established 2 508 registration centres countrywide for the massive voter registration exercise ahead of next year’s harmonised elections. Potential voters are expected to register anew as a new voters’ roll is being compiled through the current registration process. The second phase of the exercise, which began yesterday will run until November 13, while the third segment will take place between November 16 and December 1. The last leg will run from December 4 to December 19.