Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent
CABINET has received and approved the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 which relaxes registration requirements for voters.
In the Bill, as presented by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, people are now required to produce a valid passport or national identity card as proof of identity before they register to vote.
Previously, prospective voters were required to produce proof of residence to register to vote and some tenants would face challenges in acquiring the proof of residence as some landlords were not so keen to indulge them.
Addressing a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] to provide for the timeframe within which national assembly and local authority candidates can withdraw from contesting in an election.
Minister Mutsvangwa said it will also provide for the incorporation of the 30 percent women quota as well as the youth quota and the amendment of the definition of proof of identity.
“In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, one has to be a citizen in order to qualify as a voter,” she said.
“Accordingly, only a valid passport or national identity card will be required as proof of identity.
“Once the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 is enacted into law, it will assist in ensuring that only citizens are able to vote in an election, that proper candidates are allowed to contest in an election, providing clarity on when and how a candidate can withdraw their candidature in an election so as to afford ZEC sufficient time to make changes to the design of the ballot and advising the electorate of any changes to the candidature in an election.”
Yesterday, Zimbabweans welcomed the new Bill saying once it is signed into law, it will make it easier for those without proof of residence papers to register to vote.
Mrs Shupikai Murambwi said she welcomed the Bill as it will make it easier for her and her family to register to vote.
“This is a good decision because my family and I both stay in Harare but in different neighbourhoods so they used to come and register to vote in Hatfield where I stay. They would come to vote there as well, but now they will be able to register and vote where they stay,” she said.
Miss Felistas Phiri, who turned 19 this year, said she has never voted as she was below 18 when the previous election was held.
“I was not aware that there is an Act which governs elections. I have never voted and did not know the requirements but since a national identity card is the only requirement, I am going to register to vote.
“I want to see the registration and the voting process. I think the only thing that Government now needs to do is to create awareness among us young people so that we can register and vote in the upcoming elections,” she said.
Mr Richard Kaimbanemoyo from Kambuzuma said the Bill makes it easy for an ordinary Zimbabwean citizen with a valid passport and a national identity card to register to vote.
“This is good as it will make it easier for people to register to vote and even those who did not know the requirements to register to vote. Now Government has to make it known to the public that they only need to produce a national identity card or a valid passport to register to vote and that they no longer need to produce proof of residence.”
Mrs Marjorie Kakowa from Milton Park echoed the same sentiments saying the approval of the Bill is welcome.
“I think this year there will be no need for people to give excuses why they did not register to vote as the mobile registration exercise of identity cards and birth certificates is underway across the country. Passports are now easier to get so I think the Bill will allow a lot of people to register to vote,” she said.