Tuesday, 1 February 2022


Low turnout as voter registration begins There was a low turnout at most voter registration sites with very little to no activity at all in most sites. The picture taken in Nkulumane shows Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials patiently waiting for residents to come and register

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) mobile biometric voter registration started yesterday countrywide albeit on a low note in Bulawayo and some other parts of the country.

The electoral management body has established 2 700 voter registration centres and employed nearly 2 000 people to conduct voter registration education and assist the public as they register to vote.

ZEC is conducting two phases of voter registration with the first one which started yesterday expected to end at the end of the month.

The second phase will run from April 10 to April 30. Unregistered voters have been urged to take advantage of the mobile voter registration blitz as it will determine constituency sizes per province in the 2023 harmonised elections and beyond.

ZEC is expected to conduct a delimitation exercise in August this year whose outcome will determine the size of constituencies.

Matabeleland provinces have the least number of registered voters and if the situation does not change, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South stand to lose national representation while provinces in the northern part of the country stand to increase their representation.

A Chronicle news crew observed that only a few people turned out to register to vote in Bulawayo yesterday.

At centres such as Msitheli Registry Offices, less than five people had registered to vote by midday while at Lotshe Primary School in Makokoba, no one had turned up.

The situation was similar at Mgoqo Primary School in Nkulumane.

In an interview, ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said the electoral management body was satisfied with how the exercise started.

“All our provinces managed to deploy the voter registration teams with our machines working except one or two which had technical challenges. But these were rectified as we had deployed our technical persons who promptly attended the kits which had challenges.

So, overall, we are happy with how we started, but I will want to mention that we had a challenge in Gokwe North, we had a centre that we could not open on time due to flooded rivers. Our staff had to re-route our travel arrangements,” said Mr Silaigwana.

Voter registration centres open at 7.30AM to 5.30PM and the teams will be moving to a new area within a constituency.

Mr Silaigwana said there is no excuse for anyone not to be registered if they have the requisite documents.

“The general message is that they should take advantage of the centres that we have made available to them. We are operating on a rotational basis. We are spending between two and three days at the centre before moving around the constituency. Hence, we appeal to members of the public to go and register and make sure that they have to carry the requisite documents,” said Mr Silaigwana.

The public should present a national identity card or a valid passport when going to register to vote as well as proof of residence.

He said those who registered to vote leading to and after the 2018 harmonised elections should not register again as they are already registered voters.

Civil Society Organisations operating under the banner Ekhaya Vote, with the aim of encouraging members of the public to register to vote in Matabeleland region, have stepped up efforts to encourage unregistered eligible citizens to register. Ekhaya Vote spokesperson Mr Nkosikhona Dibiti said they have intensified campaigns on the ground to educate the public about the voter registration exercise.

“What we have observed is that most people are not aware of this exercise. So, what we are going to be doing is that we are going to synchronise our campaigns with the ZEC programme.

We are going to work with residents’ associations, vendors, women’s groups to mobilise more people to register to vote. ZEC has already provided us with material to distribute to communities informing where it would be and when.

Tomorrow (today), we are focusing on constituencies such as Njube-Lobengula, Magwegwe, Mpopoma-Pelandaba as they are considered to have the least number of voters,” said Mr Dibiti.

He said the best strategy to get members of the public to register to vote is to directly engage them on a face-to-face basis as messages communicated especially via social media platforms are not trusted. Chronicle


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