$8,2 billion for by-elections, voter registration

The Chronicle

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) mobile voter registration exercise starts today countrywide, with the electoral management body expected to spend $8,2 billion conducting the blitz as well as next month’s by-elections.

Zec has established 2 713 mobile voter registration centres countrywide as it seeks to make its services accessible to every citizen.

The voter registration exercise will determine the number of constituencies each province will have when Zec conducts the delimitation exercise ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.

The delimitation exercise will be conducted in August and members of the public from Matabeleland region are encouraged to register as voters as Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South have the least number of registered voters.

Briefing the media yesterday, Zec Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Mr Utoile Silaigwana said it was all systems go as far as mobile voter registration is concerned.

The exercise will run in two phases with the first phase starting today until the end of the month while the second one will commence on April 10 to April 30.

The voters’ roll for next month’s by-elections has been closed and those polls will not be covered under the exercise starting today.

Mr Silaigwana said registration centres have already been published in the press and can also be accessed on the Zec’s website www.zec.org.zw.

“Note that the Commission has established 210 voter registration teams to cater for the 210 constituencies, in addition to the 63 District office and 10 Provincial office centres. These teams will be mobile and will be deployed at the advertised registration centres for periods ranging from one -three days before moving on to the next registration centre within the constituencies,” said Mr Silaigwana.

“The teams are expected to cover a combined total of 2 713 centres during the first phase. This has been done to ensure that the commission registers as many potential registrants as possible by bringing the voter registration centres close to the people.”

He said $4,5 billion has been budgeted towards the mobile voter registration exercise and Treasury has started disbursing the funds.

He said voter education teams have been deployed in advance to inform prospective registrants of when the registration teams will be in their areas.

Mr Silaigwana said nearly 2000 people have been recruited to conduct the mobile voter registration exercise.

“Preliminaries for the voter registration exercise such as acquisition of additional personnel, training of voter educators and voter registration officers have been completed. Currently, the deployment of personnel and equipment is underway.

1 885 voter education and voter registration personnel have been recruited. So far, the commission has no challenges in the availability of personnel and it is grateful to the Public Service Commission and other statutory bodies for availing the required personnel,” said Mr Silaigwana.

He said flooding that has been recorded in areas such as Beitbridge, Chimanimani, Muzarabani, Mudzi, Chipinge and Chikombedzi could affect the rolling out of the mobile voter registration blitz and teams on the ground have been advised not to put their lives at risk by crossing flooded rivers.

Mr Silaigwana said areas that will not be accessible due to flooding will be revisited.

He said the election management body will also use radio, television and Zec social media platforms to communicate messages about its exercise. “It should be noted that this mobile voter registration exercise is not meant for the upcoming by-elections whose voters’ rolls are already closed but for the delimitation exercise expected to be conducted after the national population census,” said Mr Silaigwana.

“The commission would like to urge members of the public who have been registered before under the Biometric Voter Registration exercise not to register again since their names are already on the voters’ roll. If one is not sure of their registration status, they can check on-line on bvrinspectionzec.org.zw or on the commission’s website www.zec.org.zw.”

He discouraged political parties and civil society organisations from incentivising potential voters as this is contributing to multiple registrations.  “Although multiple registrations are eventually picked by the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the practice gives an outward false impression of the actual numbers registered,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Silaigwana said $3,7 billion has been set aside for the coming by-elections scheduled for March 26.

He said Zanu-PF has already started leading in the coming by-elections as the ruling party was uncontested in Umguza Rural District Council Ward 14 where aspiring councillor Cde Delay Ncube was uncontested.

Mr Silaigwana urged political parties and candidates to desist from electoral violence and respect the participation of women in electoral [email protected]

Article Source: The Chronicle

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