HARARE North member of Parliament Allan Markham says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must come out clean on how it is going to roll out a voter registration blitz as fears of voter exclusion loom ahead of the general election.
With Zimbabwe drawing closer to the 2023 polls, Markham fears that the blitz may leave out several eligible voters behind should it be clandestinely done.
“My point of national interest is very important. We are coming up to an election. We hear on social media, Zec included, that they are going to do another round of what are called the blitz registration. I think it is important that Zec comes clean and tell us when and where they are going to do this.
Markham said voter registration is likely to be affected by the Home Affairs ministry’s failure to bring a statement on the national identity registration, which could shut out more eligible voters.
“I relate to a point that I brought up four times already. The minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage promised us that he would go back and at your insistence, leave no one behind and register all the unregistered people left behind when he did his blitz.
“That was five months ago. To date, he has not come up even with a statement that he was requested to bring. You cannot register to vote without IDs,” Markham said during a parliamentary debate this week.
“In Hatcliffe, I have over 2 000 people who have not registered. They have no IDs. In what we call makomboni kuzasi uku kuBorrowdale (compounds in Borrowdale), we have at least 500 people who have not registered.
“This is disenfranchisement of the population. What is of serious concern to me is the minister (Kazembe Kazembe), four months after your insistence, has still not brought a statement to this House. I can only believe it is deliberate,” Markham said.
In response, the Speaker of Parliament said he had sent a letter to ensure that Home Affairs brings a ministerial statement.
“Thank you very much, Markham. The Clerk [of Parliament] is instructed immediately to ensure that the issues you raised are attended to. As for the minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage a letter has been written as evidence that he has been contacted. Now, I am going to apply Constitutional Provision Number 107 (2) to ensure that he complies this week. Thank you,” the Speaker said.
Kazembe appeared in Parliament on Thursday with a ministerial statement to address Markham’s concerns. He said there would be a mop-up exercise to include everyone who has failed to register to date.
“Preparations are underway to conduct a mop-up national mobile registration exercise before the general elections. This is an opportunity that will be given to those who failed to obtain or replace their identity documents during the initial exercise. The dates for the mop-up exercise will be announced in due course,” he said.
Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna quizzed the minister on whether the blitz would not disenfranchise those who are yet to register.
“Given that the elections are upon us, would it please the minister, have these blitz that he alludes to put in place almost immediately or in tandem with the current voting process modus operandi because two days after the proclamation by His Excellency, immediately the voter registration exercise comes to a screeching halt. Secondly, I would want to know from the honourable minister that even before the blitz is let out to go to mop-up exercise, is it still possible for the citizens to go to the current registration offices to embark on the same exercise that was embarked on to register themselves according to section 43 of the constitution? I thank you.”
The minister however assured the house that the exercise will ensure all those who intend to vote in the upcoming polls will be included.
“That is exactly what I highlighted that we will ensure that it (the second blitz) is done before Zec’s second round is done so that it will enable those who have then obtained identity documents (IDs) to be able to register,” said Kazembe.
On issues of youths failing to access national identity cards for registration, Kazembe said the Civil Registry Department had managed to issue over a million identity documents nationwide during the blitz and 1 423 of those were for Hatcliffe and Borrowdale residents.
“The Market Square mobile teams which were under Harare metropolitan province itinerary covered Hatcliffe and Borrowdale as follows: Hatcliffe 1 654 Birth certificate and 1 226 identity cards; Borrowdale 101 birth certificates and 197 identity cards, bringing it to a total of 1 755 birth certificates and 1 423 national identity cards,” said the minister.