GOVERNMENT is planning to issue at least two million national identity cards (IDs) and birth certificates during a mobile registration blitz that begins on April 1.
Lack of critical national documents has seen a few people, especially in Matabeleland provinces, failing to register to vote during the voter registration exercise that is currently being rolled out by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
The mobile voter registration is in two phases, and the first started on February 1 and will run until February 28, while the second phase will run from 11-30 April.
Civil Registry Offices across the country have been saddled with a backlog of documents for some time as Zimbabweans try to get identification documents.
Birth certificates and national IDs are crucial for Zimbabweans to obtain other documents such as passports and driver’s licences.
With the country set to go for general elections next year, the identity documents are crucial for one to register as a voter.
Statistics released by ZEC recently indicated that Bulawayo had the lowest number of registered voters with 254 630 followed by Matabeleland South with 259 689 registered voters and Matabeleland North standing at 335 851.
During a press conference in Harare on Wednesday, the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe said Government does not want to leave anyone behind during the coming identity documents exercise.
The minister held the press conference soon after meeting the Southern Africa Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCO) chairperson who is also national commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), General Khehla John Sithole.
“Zimbabweans are expected to get these documents by September this year.
The department of civil registry is riddled by a backlog of identity cards which has seen long queues being common at its offices.
We are going to start mobile registrations.
I’m also aware that you can’t get a passport if you do not have these documents and there is a backlog.
But we have a programme that is starting on the 1st of April, where we intend to give more than two million people IDs, birth certificates, passports etc. it will run from April to September.
We shall try our level best so that no one will be left behind,” said Minister Kazembe.
Earlier this week, ZEC said lack of identity documents especially among youths is one of the reasons for low voter registration in Matabeleland North.
In a phone interview yesterday, ZEC Matabeleland North provincial elections officer Mr Richard Sibanda said turnout is very low, especially in rural areas.
“The exercise is progressing well despite the fact that turnout is very low. It is worse in rural areas and some are saying they do not have national identity documents,” said Mr Sibanda.
The exercise is an opportunity for Matabeleland to save its constituencies when the delimitation exercise is conducted later this year.
Bulawayo has 12 parliamentary seats while Matabeleland North and South have 13 each.
Low voter registration could result in loss of constituencies for the region ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections if the trend doesn’t change.
Mr Sibanda could not readily give updated statistics for people that have registered so far in Matabeleland North Province as he was out of office carrying out voter education.
He said each constituency has a mobile team while static district offices also remain open for people to register.
In Matabeleland South Province, the majority of youths in the 18 to 22 years age group also do not have identity documents.
Matabeleland South provincial elections officer Mr Rabson Nyoni said although he was not aware of the reasons why a majority of the youth do not have identity documentation, it is a common trend across communities.
“What we’re citing are the trends we’re reading from the voter registration centres,” he said.
Mr Nyoni said in order for one to successfully register to vote, they have to be a citizen of Zimbabwe, be 18 years of age and above, have an ID or valid Zimbabwean passport and proof of residence.
“Even when you don’t have proof of residence, the teams will be having an affidavit that you can complete in case you visit without the proof of residence.
We will first check anybody who visits our centre where we’ll be registering people on the voters’ roll.
We’ll be having a search facility that has the national voters’ roll.
First, we check the ID, once we punch in the ID number, it will indicate all the other details; that you’re registered and you vote at a specific polling station.
If you’re registered, we’ll just confirm, if the information is incorrect and you need to correct it, we’ll give you the opportunity to correct the information,” he said.
Article Source: The Chronicle