4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Voter Registration Exercise Postponed

Photo: Fikile
Zimbabwe Prime Minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai

IN the latest sign that President Robert Mugabe's demands for elections in March would be impossible to fulfil, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)'s voter registration exercise scheduled to have commenced yesterday suffered a still-birth due to cash constraints.

Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe confirmed the delay in disbursing funds from treasury had resulted in the postponement of the exercise which her organisation was supposed to conduct together with the office of the Registrar-General.

"We were supposed to have started (voter registration) yesterday but the money for the exercise still hasn't come. We were told the money is coming but as you are aware the year is only starting so we will just wait," Kazembe told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview on Wednesday.

Kazembe said the exercise, which would see outreach teams being deployed to all parts of the country, is intended to "upgrade and clean up the voters' roll".

"We intend to remove all deceased persons and add new voters onto the roll," she said.

Zec deputy public relations officer Tendayi Pamire recently told the state media that their records indicate there are currently 5,5 million people registered to vote, and urged more to come forward and register.

Kazembe also stated they expected the exercise to last at least two months, a scenario which would see the exercise spilling into March, and therefore making it impossible for elections to be held that month as demanded by Mugabe. The registration exercise is just one of many impediments standing in the way of early elections, with the completion of the constitution-making exercise being the main stumbling block.

Zec and the Registrar-General's office have in the past been accused of partisanship in the running of elections, particularly from the MDC formations who allege that the voters' roll is full of ghost voters and prone to manipulation.

A top research institute, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, recently alleged the Zec secretariat remains wholly unreformed and full of intelligence agents and cannot deliver free and fair elections, allegations which have also been made by the MDC-T.

Zec has previously said it requires US$220 million for both the referendum and elections.

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