Farirai Machivenyika recently in Chinhoyi
The introduction of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise is a welcome development that is likely to improve transparency in the country’s electoral processes.
This was said during a public hearing jointly organised by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill at Cooks Hall in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West. Mr Peter Liwanda from Chinhoyi Residents Trust said the BVR exercise was in line with the Constitution.
“The establishment of a new voters’ roll gives us a platform to start afresh and will reduce chances of double or multiple voting,” he said.
Another resident, Mr Tatenda Chinyuke, said by its very nature, BVR had the potential to reduce post-election disputes.
“I am happy that the BVR has come because it will go a long way in reducing electoral disputes among contesting parties by enhancing transparency,” he said.
His views were similarly supported by Mr John Mkusha, who was of the opinion that a clean voters’ roll will emerge from the current process.
“This exercise will ensure we have a clean voters’ roll since everyone is registering afresh so that people are identified at the polling station they are supposed to vote,” he said.
But Ms Bridget Ndaba believes that the amendments to the electoral law had to be holistic.
“The BVR is a right concept, but I believe it should have been done in a holistic manner to include the rights of prisoners, those in hospitals and those in the Diaspora,” Ms Ndaba said.
She also urged Government to scrap the need for prospective registrants to produce proof of residence, saying this was a put-off for potential voters. Mr Henry Chivhanga, a member of the Disability Amalgamation Community Trust, said the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was progressive although it did not adequately address issues concerning people with disabilities.
“The Bill is progressive but is not clear on issues affecting people with disabilities, especially those that require assistance during voting. Those that need assistance should be allowed to choose a person of their choice to assist them,” he said.
Mr Chivhanga said the BVR exercise should also cater for the blind. The Parliamentary committee is on a countrywide tour to gather people’s views on the Electoral Amendment Bill. The proposed law seeks to regularise the on-going voter registration and establish a new voters’ roll. The registration blitz is in its final phase, which is expected to end later this month.