Proof of res­i­dence req­ui­site in voter reg­is­tra­tion

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Lin­coln Towindo

PROSPEC­TIVE vot­ers are re­quired to pro­duce phys­i­cal proof of per­ma­nent res­i­dence for el­i­gi­bil­ity to regis­ter to vote, a shift from an ear­lier pro­posal that sought to en­list vot­ers on the roll with­out pro­duc­ing res­i­dency doc­u­men­ta­tion.

The Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion has over the past year been work­ing on a raft of changes in the elec­toral sys­tem which saw the elec­toral body re­cently an­nounc­ing plans to scrap the need for one to pro­duce proof of res­i­dency dur­ing reg­is­tra­tion. Pre­vi­ously, vot­ers were re­quired to pro­duce, to the reg­is­ter­ing of­fi­cer, proof of res­i­dence in the form of elec­tric­ity bills, coun­cil util­ity bills, phone bills or a signed af­fi­davit from a lo­cal chief or land­lord con­firm­ing one’s phys­i­cal res­i­dence.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a ZEC draft voter reg­is­tra­tion Statu­tory In­stru­ment which was cir­cu­lated to elec­tion stake­hold­ers early this year, vot­ers were only re­quired to af­firm to a reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer their phys­i­cal ad­dress be­fore be­ing reg­is­tered on the vot­ers’ roll. The reg­u­la­tion read: “5. (1) For the pur­poses of reg­is­ter­ing as a voter, a voter shall be re­quired to pro­vide a res­i­den­tial ad­dress to be filled in on the claim form for reg­is­tra­tion and af­firm, be­fore the voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer that: he or she re­sides at the ad­dress given, or the ad­dress so given is the in­tended ad­dress to be used by the voter for pur­poses of reg­is­tra­tion.”

ZEC has how­ever made an about turn af­ter ob­jec­tions from po­lit­i­cal par­ties, with prospec­tive reg­is­trants now re­quired to pro­duce proof of reg­is­tra­tion be­fore be­ing reg­is­tered as vot­ers.

ZEC chair­per­son Jus­tice Rita Maka­rau told The Sun­day Mail last week that the amended pro­posed reg­u­la­tions, which will be pro­mul­gated soon, were now be­fore Gov­ern­ment.

She said, “The voter reg­is­tra­tion reg­u­la­tions were drafted and for­warded to the Min­istry of Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs for the Min­is­ter’s ap­proval in line with the pro­vi­sions of sec­tion 192(6) of the Elec­toral Act (Chap­ter 2:13).

“Yes, the ini­tial draft reg­u­la­tions that were sent to stake­hold­ers by ZEC to so­licit views did not re­quire prospec­tive reg­is­trants to pro­duce any form of proof of res­i­dence.

“We then re­ceived rep­re­sen­ta­tions from the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers to the ef­fect that it is nec­es­sary for a prospec­tive reg­is­trant to pro­duce some form of proof of res­i­dence.

“Ac­cord­ingly, the draft that has been sub­mit­ted to the Min­is­ter (Vice Pres­i­dent Emmerson Mnan­gagwa) for ap­proval has re-in­stated the po­si­tion pro­vided for in the 2013 Reg­u­la­tions.

“In other words, proof of res­i­dence is now a re­quire­ment.”

The de­vel­op­ment comes at a time when the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment has be­gun re­leas­ing funds to the Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion to pre­pare for next year’s har­monised elec­tion.

Last Wednesday, ZEC signed a pur­chase agree­ment for the sup­ply of 3 000 Bio­met­ric Voter Reg­is­tra­tion kits with Lax­ton Group, the Chi­nese com­pany that won a pub­lic ten­der to sup­ply the equip­ment.

Lax­ton Group was awarded the ten­der af­ter it pro­posed a US$3,9 mil­lion bud­get to sup­ply the BVR kits while an­other bid­der, De­ma­log Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tems of Ger­many, which charged US$5,5 mil­lion.

While the ini­tial ten­der was for 1 600 kits, the elec­toral body now re­quires 3 000 kits com­posed of 2 900 gen­eral kits and 100 districts kits.

Lax­ton Group has been ac­tive in Africa af­ter it sup­plied 8 000 kits and in­stant Polyvinyl Chlo­ride (PVC) card is­suance kits to Tan­za­nia in 2015.

It has also worked in Guinea, the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo and Mozam­bique where it re­port­edly sup­plied BVR kits, gen­er­a­tors, bat­ter­ies and other ac­ces­sories for voter reg­is­tra­tion and elec­tions.

Lax­ton Group’s sys­tem has also been used on iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards in Malawi.

Jus­tice Maka­rau said voter reg­is­tra­tion is an­tic­i­pated to be­gin within three months, when the kits have been de­liv­ered.

“ZEC is on course with all its planned prepa­ra­tions,” she said.

“Cur­rently the fo­cus is on voter reg­is­tra­tion which is an im­por­tant as­pect of the elec­toral process and a pre­lude to all the other is­sues.

“We are cur­rently re­ceiv­ing the req­ui­site fi­nan­cial sup­port from Trea­sury for all planned ac­tiv­i­ties.

“ZEC signed a Pur­chase Agree­ment for the sup­ply of 3 000 BVR kits with Lax­ton Group lim­ited on Wednesday the 14th of June, 2017.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.