Blitz gets few Bulawayo voters

The Chronicle

Mashudu Netsianda and Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporters
BULAWAYO recorded 6 000 new voters during the just ended first phase of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) mobile biometric voter registration blitz which ended on Monday.

The mobile voter registration is being rolled out in two phases, with the second phase running from April 11 to 30. The first phase ran from February 1 to 28.

The Matabeleland region, which is least represented in Parliament, has 38 parliamentary seats out of 210 constituencies.

Bulawayo has 12, while Matabeleland South and North each have 13.

The remainder of the seats are spread across the seven other provinces.

It has been previously reported that Matabeleland region has the least number of registered voters countrywide, a development that could eventually result in the loss of constituencies ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections if the trend doesn’t change.

According to statistics that were released by Zec prior to the blitz, Bulawayo had the lowest number of registered voters with 254 630 followed by Matabeleland South with 259 689 and Matabeleland North standing at 335 851.

Delimitation, which is carried out after a population census and is provided for in Sections 160 and 161 of the Constitution, refers to the dividing of the country into constituencies and wards for the purposes of elections and involves coming up with a minimum threshold of registered voters in each of the country’s 210 National Assembly constituencies.

The exercise could see some constituencies with a low number of registered voters being merged with others while some could be split into more than one, subject to the number of registered voters.

The number of voters in each province will be used for the delimitation exercise that will determine the number of constituencies in each province.

The voter registration exercise will, however, not benefit those who would want to participate in the by-elections slated for 26 March.

Zec’s provincial chief elections officer for Bulawayo, Mr Innocent Ncube, said the just-ended voter registration blitz saw around 6 000 people registering to vote in the metropolitan province.

“The just ended blitz was a flop because only around 6 000 people registered to vote. If you recall, the national census had projected that in Bulawayo Province by 2018, 410 000 would be qualifying to vote, but 258 000 registered,” he said.

Mr Ncube said the turnout was disappointing and urged the politicians, civil society organisations and residents’ associations to do more in terms of raising awareness.

“If we add the 6 000 people who registered under the first phase of the blitz, Bulawayo registered voters are now more than 260 000. However, the question that one has to ask is ‘where are the 150 000 voters as at 2018 not to mention thousands of others who turned 18 years from that period to date’?” he asked.

Zec identified more than 2 700 centres countrywide to carry out mobile biometric voter registration ahead of the delimitation exercise to determine constituency sizes for the 2023 harmonised elections.

Unregistered citizens aged 18 years and above are eligible to register. Members of the public should produce national identity documents; be it metal, plastic or waiting pass with holder’s picture, or valid Zimbabwean passport and proof of residence when coming for registration.

A driver’s licence cannot be used to register as a voter. Some citizens with IDs inscribed alien are permitted to register as voters if they fit the country’s constitutional requirements.

The Civil Registry Department will launch a National Identity Card Blitz from April 1 as Government steps up efforts to allow citizens to acquire documents necessary to register for next year’s general elections.

The programme will run until September, depending on the uptake and demand.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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