Tuesday, 24 October 2017

SCRAP THIS USELESS REQUIREMENT : ZEC URGED

Political parties have urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to scrap the requirement for potential voters to provide proof of residence, saying the precondition saved no purpose apart from making the registration process cumbersome. 

This comes in the wake of numerous reports that some village heads are charging people for them to write letters that serve as proof of residence.

In some cases, the village heads are reportedly refusing to write the letters to settle personal scores. As at October 23, ZEC had turned away 22 873 potential registrants for various reasons, including failure to provide proof of residence. 

In separate interviews, representatives of various political parties yesterday agreed that ZEC should scrap the requirement, saying it was “useless” as no verification was being done to check the authenticity of documents produced by people as proof of residence. They argued that the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system was so tamper-proof that it could ordinarily prevent both multiple registrations and voting. Zanu-PF chief whip Cde Lovemore Matuke said they will discuss the matter at their next caucus next week, with a view to lobbying ZEC to scrap the requirement.

“If that requirement is scrapped, that will help our people. The BVR system only allows a person to vote once and that does not require proof of residence to authenticate. We will caucus next Wednesday and, just like any other political party, lobby ZEC to consider our request. We cannot tell them what to do because they are an independent body, but we can lobby them to consider our views,” he said. 

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu said: “The proof of residence requirement should simply be scrapped with immediate effect. In rural areas, some unscrupulous and greedy village heads are charging people 25 cents, 50 cents or even $1 in order for them to prepare written proof of residence for people who intend to register.

“This has resulted in hundreds of people failing to register to vote because they don’t have the money to pay to these traditional leaders. Even in urban areas, lodgers are finding it difficult to obtain proof of residence from their landlords because some landlords are simply uncooperative. ZEC should take immediate measures to rectify this anomaly.” MDC spokesperson Mr Kurauone Chihwayi said there was urgent need to do away with the troublesome provision.

“Corruption reports involving traditional leaders claiming to have the support of some political crooks have reached our offices. Proof of residence is now hindering the smooth flow of the BVR registration process. There has been serious discord regarding interpretation of what ZEC calls “valid proof of residence,” he said.

“Proof of residence is not what was communicated to political stakeholders by ZEC. Reports of frustrations and conflicts at both rural and urban centres as a result of proof of residence shall continue to worry the MDC.

“Scrapping the proof of residence in light of recent corruption reports and contradictory interpretation of this requirement may motivate most citizens to go and register. This, in my view, will be a giant step towards clearing the way.” National People’s Party spokesperson Mr Methuseli Moyo said: “It (proof of residence requirement) should be done away with, especially in rural areas because people there know each other in their localities and will easily vouch for each other if someone is being queried.

“Proof of residence is cumbersome and to a greater extent responsible for low turnout at registration centres.” In a statement yesterday, ZEC public relations director Mr Justin Manyau said: “ZEC has reached the one million voter registration mark and is confident that it is well on course to register all prospective qualifying registrants in the country.
“The Commission would like to inform the public that it has the capacity to register all eligible voters if they turn up for registration during the remaining three phases.” herald

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