19 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Voter Registration Machines Break Down

Photo: The Herald
Biometric Voter Registration equipment (file photo).

Voter registration in Bulawayo which kicked off on Monday was marred by technological glitches with the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) machines failing to indicate some of the polling centre names.

The hiccups forced Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) staffers to manually write the polling centre names on registration slips, resulting in the exercise proceeding at a snail's pace.

Areas affected by the problems included central Bulawayo and Umguza in Matebeleland North.

A ZEC staffer who did not want to be named explained the problems to NewZimbabwe.com.

"When the address of the registrant has been captured, the BVR machine is supposed to capture and print the name of the nearest polling centre relevant to the registrant," he said.

"Since voting is going to be polling station based, the name of the polling centre nearest to where the registrant stays is supposed to appear on the voter's registration slip but the machines are failing to bring up some of the polling centre names."

One of the first Bulawayo residents to register, Abel Ncube, complained that the process took more time than what he had anticipated.

"I was one of the first person to register. By 8 am, I was already queening but the exercise started around past 9am. It took me approximately seven minutes to be served.

"If these challenges experienced today are not addressed, I think a lot of aspiring voters will not be able to register," said Ncube.

Opposition Zapu spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa said the glitches experienced at ZEC registration centres were a clear indication that election agency was not prepared for elections which are due next year.

"I think political parties have been vindicated in our calls to ZEC not to rush the voter registration process without adequate preparations," said Maphosa.

"Some of the information is now manually captured and yet this is supposed to be a computerised process. Considering the history of our previous electoral processes which are riddled with allegations of vote rigging, this is likely to raise a lot of eye brews."

Maphosa also complained about lack of publicity for the exercise.

"ZEC was supposed to roll out an intensive voter registration campaign before starting the exercise. Right now, a lot of people are not aware of the voter registration exercise," he said.

"I hope this is not a deliberate ploy," added Maphosa.

ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau could not be reached for comment.


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