Felex Share Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will roll-out a massive voter registration blitz beginning October 10 and has established 2 508 registration centres countrywide for the first phase of the exercise. The blitz is in preparation of next year’s harmonised elections.
It will last 72 days and will be done in four segments. The first phase runs from October 10 to 26. The second phase will be done from October 29 to November 13. The third segment will take place between November 16 and December 1.
ZEC will conduct the last phase from December 4 to 19. This was revealed by ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau when the electoral body met political parties in Harare yesterday. ZEC was updating political parties on the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise, which is being done to create a new voters’ roll.
“We are going to start the blitz on October 10 without fail,” said Justice Makarau. The Commission is working on the advert to be published in due course wherein centres will also be provided for public knowledge. Each kit will spend 16 days at an established centre.”
For the first phase, Harare will have 167 registration centres, Bulawayo (108), Masvingo (322), Manicaland (345), Midlands (359), Matabeleland North (220), Matabeleland South (164), Mashonaland East (289), Mashonaland Central (225), and Mashonaland West (309). The blitz is being done using the 3 000 biometric voter registration kits procured from China.
Said Justice Makarau: “The difference between the number of registration centres and the kits deployed is as a result of some centres being allocated more than one kit because of population density.”
ZEC began continuous registration to create a biometric voters’ roll on September 14 as proclaimed by President Mugabe. Justice Makarau said as of Monday, 25 571 people had been registered at the 63 ZEC centres around the country. The electoral body is targeting to register seven million voters. Justice Makarau said each biometric voter registration kit had a capacity to register between 80 and 100 people per day. Treasury has released $15 million to ZEC for the registration exercise.
“It is not enough to cover everything but it is enough to cover all the preliminary steps we have to take in terms of deploying our staff, kit operators and voter educators,” Justice Makarau said.
Responding to demands by political parties that they should have access to the main server containing voters’ information, Justice Makarau said it was impossible because of security reasons.
“Only limited people will be allowed and even not all ZEC employees will have access. Observers can however monitor transmission of data from district level up to the main server,” she said.
She added: “After inspection and further cleaning of the roll, if necessary, ZEC will issue a notice in the Gazette fixing a date on which the voters roll produced as a result of the above processes is declared as the definitive voters’ roll.
“This new voters’ roll shall be the basis upon which the continuous registration of voters shall be conducted. All eligible voters not registered during the national blitz period will be registered. The voters’ roll for elections in terms of the law closes 12 days after the nomination day.”
Justice Makarau said voter registration would be open for observation by interested stakeholders adding that they were free to apply for accreditation. She said ZEC would rope in civil society organisations and faith based organisations who meet requirements set out in the law to carry out voter education.
Biometric voter registration entails capturing a person’s fingerprints, facial features, and identity card details. This rules out any chances of double voting.