By Nkanyiso Ncube
PARLIAMENTARY watchdog, Veritas has called on government to revise the voter registration residential requirements so as to allow every eligible voter an opportunity to vote.
In a commentary, Veritas said residential requirements should not be a hindrance for people to participate in the upcoming 2018 general elections.
“All adult citizens must be given an opportunity to register as voters. Residential requirements for registration can be laid down, but only to ensure that voters are registered on the most appropriate voters roll, not to deny voters the right to vote,” read part of the commentary.
The call to relax registration requirements comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is in the process of acquiring Biometric Voter Registrations (BVR) kits set to be used in the country’s election process for the first time.
BVR kits are expected among other things to help ZEC compile a fresh voter’s roll and implement its polling station-based voting which is a departure from the current ward-based voting.
And according to Veritas every eligible voter should be given equal opportunity to vote and political parties access to all election materials they need to participate effectively.
“All eligible voters must be given an opportunity to cast their votes, and the government must facilitate voting by persons with disabilities or special needs. Political parties and candidates must have reasonable access to all material and information they need to participate effectively in an election, and must be given fair and equal access to the media, whether public or private”.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this year, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said no one should be turned away for not producing the proof of residency during the voter registration exercise.
“Where the citizen seeking registration as a voter is unable to produce any of the above documents, they can and must depose an affidavit swearing that they are resident at a place located within the ward”.
“No one should, therefore, be turned away or be denied the right to be registered as a voter on account of inadequate or lack of documents proving residence,” Makarau said.
The issue of providing proof of residency has been under scrutiny with most urban dwellers reportedly being asked to produce title deeds during voter registration.
Below are voter registration requirements as stated by the Department of Registrar General:
Applicant must be:
- Eighteen (18) years old and above.
- A citizen of Zimbabwe and must be a resident in the respective constituency or ward.
- A Zimbabwe national registration identity document (metal, synthetic or green waiting pass), or
- A valid Zimbabwe passport
- Documentary evidence proving that the applicant is currently residing in the ward or constituency
in which registration or transfer is to be effected is required in the form of:
- A certificate of occupation/title deeds or
- Lodgers permit/card or
- Rates/water statement in applicant’s name, or
- Electricity statement in applicant’s name, or
- Credit store statement showing the physical address of the applicant, in the respective area.
- Written statement from landlord, parent or friend confirming the applicant’s address accompanied by a house card, electricity bill, rates bill or any similar document in the name of the landlord, parent or friend staying with applicant.
- Sworn statement by employer or applicant confirming applicant’s address.
- Hospital bill or envelopes with post markings reflecting applicant’s address and any other information or document sufficient to ascertain the applicant’s residence.
- Confirmation by the Village Head or
- Resettlement Officer or
- Farm Owner
Note: Any person who wishes to be registered as a voter or seek transfer shall present himself or herself at
the appropriate registration office in order that the appropriate prescribed claim form may be completed on
his or her behalf.
Registered voters residing out of their constituencies
In terms of Section 23(3 of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13]), a voter who is registered on the voters roll for a constituency, other than a voter who has been registered in that constituency in terms of the provision to subsection (1), shall not be entitled to have his or her name retained on such roll if, for a continuous period of twelve months he or she has been absent or has ceased to reside in that constituency.