Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday rolled out the new biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise at 63 centres countrywide amid a low turn out.The registration is in preparation for next year’s harmonised elections. Registration centres opened as early as 7am, but people came in trickles. In Harare, as of 11am, only 18 people had registered, with a handful waiting to be served.
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- UNDP endorses BVR kits supplier
- Voter registration dates proclaimed
- Japan donates $1m to ZEC
- ZEC receives 400 BVR kits
ZEC is targeting to register at least seven million people and a national voter registration blitz is expected to begin next month after the electoral body takes delivery of the remaining 2 600 BVR kits.
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A tour by The Herald at Remembrance registration centre in Mbare, Harare, showed the process took long to complete (approximately 13 minutes) although ZEC officials said an average of four minutes.
People are allowed to register at any centre, but their details are transferred to their respective polling stations. For instance, zanu-pf secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Simon Khaya Moyo registered in Harare yesterday, but he will vote in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South, at Sanzukwi Primary School.
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In an interview at the Remembrance registration centre, ZEC district elections officer Mr Taurai Gavi said: “We started our registration process smoothly this morning.
“By 7am, there was already a person who was waiting to be registered. We did not have any challenges. Our registration centre is fully equipped and we are ready. We are hoping that people will increase as the day progresses and it being the first day, we appreciate people are still trying to find their way to the registration centres but I certainly hope we will have more people.
“So far we have registered about 18 people.” Those without proof of residence were being asked to fill in affidavit forms that would be commissioned before registering.
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ZEC urged those without proof of residence to have their affidavits forms signed by commissioners of oaths before visiting registration centres to speed up the process. “Some are coming with the relevant documents such as proof of residence but some are also hoping that ZEC will give them affidavit forms to fill and have them commissioned right there. We are encouraging voters to bring their own copies of affidavits and declare their residence to a commissioner of oaths and then bring an already filled affidavit of residence. That will be good or any other affidavit that bears your residential address.”
Commenting on the time they were taking to register people, Mr Gavi said: “I will not say the process is slow as yet but you will appreciate it being the first day people are also trying to familiarise with BVR issues, some are even afraid of the computers but I know Zimbabweans will make it up. Slowly but surely, it will speed up the process. On average we are taking four minutes to register a person. I think to us that is okay and I hope we will improve as we go on.”
Speaking to journalists after registering, Cde Khaya Moyo said registration officers were being thorough. “My impression is that the registration officers are very thorough,” he said.
“There is no loophole to find anywhere. It might be a bit slow but people must be patient and as we progress, those who have not been registered must go and register.
“I am impressed because this is a new system and we shall not have, as we thought in the past, that dead bodies will register. That is not going to happen this time with the BVR system. We must commend the officers for what they are doing but we must also be patient with them. It’s quite a tough exercise. I registered in Harare for convenience. I know that this information will be transferred to my constituency, that is in Mangwe district and specifically where I am going to vote, that is Sanzukwi Primary School.” Cde Moyo urged people to register early to avoid last minute rush.