Saturday, 4 November 2017

PROOF OF RESIDENCE : 485 NEW COMMISSIONERS COUNTRYWIDE

Government has come to the rescue of prospective voters who were battling to acquire proof of residence to register under the Biometric Voter Registration by according Commissioner of Oath status to 485 voter registration officers countrywide. Those who want to register can now bring their affidavits for proof of residence to the registration centres where they will be certified by the approved registration officer before they register as voters.

The new development is contained in a Government Gazette Extraordinary General Notice Number 642A of 2017 published yesterday by Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu. The new commissioners are spread across all the country’s 10 provinces.

The notice was published following a request by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which wanted to eliminate the inconvenience suffered by aspiring registrants, especially in urban areas.

“It is hereby notified, in terms of Section 6(3) of the Justices of Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act (Chapter 7:09), that the Minister of Home Affairs has, in terms of Section 6(1) of the said Act, appointed the persons mentioned in the Schedule to be Commissioners of Oaths for Zimbabwe only for the purposes of voter registration 2017,” reads the notice.

Minister Mpofu appointed 73 commissioners in Manicaland, 69 in Masvingo, 69 in Midlands, 62 in Mashonaland East, 53 in Mashonaland West, 49 in Mashonaland Central, 44 in Matabeleland North, 33 in Matabeleland South, 19 in Harare, 11 in Bulawayo and three at the ZEC head office in Harare.

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau last week said the commissioners of oaths would be helpful to the urban registrants, who were facing challenges on obtaining proof of residence.
“We have also observed that, mainly in the rural areas, we do not have any challenges relating to proof of residence and that the issue of commissioners of oaths is an issue we need to address mainly for our urban registrants, and it is an issue that we are already addressing,” said Justice Makarau while accompanying Justice, Legal and Parliamentary 
Affairs Minister Happyton Bonyongwe on a tour of registration centres in Murehwa.

“We have been in touch with the Ministry of Home Affairs. We have requested them to grant 
our voter registration supervisors commissioner of oaths status just for this exercise so that we may make it easy for people who may not have documents to prove their residency in the urban areas.”
Political parties have raised concern over the number of people being turned away at registration centres for failing to produce documents proving their residence. They have since called on ZEC to do away with the requirement.

As at October 25, 2017, about 24 130 individuals had been turned away at ZEC’s 2 075 centres countrywide. Statistics from 622 other centres were, however, not submitted. According to ZEC, 1,2 million people were registered during the first phase of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise, which ended on October 26.

The second phase of the programme got under way on Sunday and ZEC says it is confident of reaching the targeted seven million registrants. ZEC has established 2 508 registration centres countrywide for the massive voter registration exercise ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.

Potential voters are expected to register anew as a new voters’ roll is being compiled through the current registration process. The second phase of the BVR exercise will run until November 13, while the third will take place between November 16 and December 1. The last leg will run from December 4 to December 19.

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