21 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Anger As MPs Jump Voter Registration Queue

Photo: The Herald
Biometric Voter Registration equipment.

Some MDC-T MPs Wednesday angered dozens of prospective voters queuing up to have their details captured into the Biometric Voting System when they turned up at a Harare registration centre to jump a queue that had been stagnant for nearly two hours.

The incident at Remembrance Complex in Mbare was one of a handful of similar sideshows that have marred the BVR process since commencement on Monday this week.

Scores Wednesday turned up for registration in Mbare only to find the centre without VR1 forms used to input the identity details of individuals and VR9 affidavit forms for proof of residence purposes.

To add to the confusion, there was no Commissioner of Oaths to certify proof of residence declarations by those who had turned up to register.

As if that was not enough provocation to prospective voters, MPs suddenly appeared and headed straight to the front to be served first.

Southerton MP Gift Chimanikire and Fani Munengami (Glen View North) were some of them.

Zanu PF's Susan Chuma was among those cited as having disregarded the queue.

Former Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Jameson Timba was the only top MDC-T official who humbly observed queue etiquette.

Firebrand pro-democracy activist, Linda Masarira who was among a handful of civil leaders who also turned up for the process was quick to remind the MPs they were not in any better position to claim privileges ahead of the very same people whom they would depend on to bring them back to parliament.

"What is the point of jumping the queue at the expense of people who made you honourables," she said.

When residents were increasingly getting frustrated by the absence of a Commissioner of Oaths, it took the ingenuity of one lawyer and National People's Party activist who volunteered his time and kit to assist.

Elsewhere, members of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) Youth Forum (NYF) intensified their pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to smoothen the registration process which has been marred by the shortage of registration kits coupled with a half-hearted approach to business by ZEC.

Topping the list of their concerns was the absence of a Commissioner of Oaths specifically deployed by the poll management authority to assist prospective voters.

NYF had a hastily arranged meeting with ZEC officials to air their concerns.

"The ZEC team emphasised that it is not the prerogative of the ZEC commissioners of oaths at the registration centres," read a statement later delivered by the group at a press.

"The ZEC team emphasised that it is not the prerogative of the ZEC team to provide the Commissioners of Oaths and the voting public can use alternative means to procure the proof of residence as prescribed by SI 85 of 2017."

Zimbabwe's poll fatigued opposition has pulled all the stops to stifle all underhand tactics often employed by the incumbent to rig the country's elections.

Even in his moments of agony, un-well MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has continuously urged locals to turn up in their numbers to register.

The ex-prime minister is out receiving treatment in South Africa for a colon cancer related ailment.

His party Wednesday urged ZEC to "up its game" in what it described as a shambolic start to the emotive process.

ZEC has opened up 63 registration centres countrywide with a single machine deployed in each of the areas.

Some 2,600 BVR kits are still to be delivered by a Chinese company contracted to supply the kits.

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