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Zim polls marred by multiple irregularities — AU-Comesa



THE African Union and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Election Observer Mission (AU-Comesa) to Zimbabwe’s 2023 general election says several voters are likely to have been left out of the voting process due to lack of national identification cards, amid reports that the registration process was not transparent in some parts of the country.


The general election has been marred by several irregularities, with concerns arising over voter registration and accessibility of the voters’ roll among others.

In a joint statement presented by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, the AU-Comesa EOM says confidence in the polls has been whittled down by a less transparent national ID registration process and irregularities in the voters’ roll. In June this year, Zec presided over a chaotic voter registration process which saw people, particularly prominent members of the opposition, fail to locate their names in the voters roll.

“The Mission takes note of Zec’s efforts to reach out and register as many eligible voters as possible. This effort was appreciated by some stakeholders the Mission interacted with, but also raised some issues of concern as follows; “(a) That many potential eligible voters were left out due to lack of National Registration Cards which is one of the requirements for registration as a voter. They claimed that the process for obtaining the National Identity Cards was not transparent in some areas of the country. “(b) Failure to open the review of the voters’ roll to political parties as a confidence building measure. (c) The limited time of only five days allocated to voters to check their registration status. (d) Late release of voters’ roll to political parties candidates and other interested stakeholders. (f) Limited Community,” reads the report presented in Harare this week.

According to the report, while Zec has made an effort to register new voters, some of them have been failing to access their names from the voters’ roll.

“For the 2023 harmonised election, the Mission notes the Zec conducted three phases of enhanced voter registration from 1-28 February 2022, 11-30 April 2022 from 12-26 March 2023. This yielded 450 000 new voters bringing the total registered voters to 6 619 690. Voters who wished transfer to the other electoral areas could do so during this period.

“The provisional voters’ register was displayed for the public inspection from 27-31 May. Additionally, voters could verify their registration status on their mobile phones using USSD code *265# or through Zec’s website. However, there were concerns raised by some stakeholders and voters on election day and the USSD was not always working.

 “Section 17A of the Electoral Act provides for the conduct of continuous voter registration by Zec. In addition, Zec periodically conducts enhanced voter registration where additional voter registration centers are opened for defined periods of time. To be eligible to vote in an election, a person must be a Zimbabwean citizen of at least 18 years old, in possession of either a national identity card or a valid Zimbabwean passport and have proof pf residence,” reads the report.

As previously reported by The NewsHawks, Home affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe presented a ministerial statement after multiple requests from Citizens’ Coalition for Change legislator Allan Markham, saying close to three million people had been registered between February and September last year in a national ID registration exercise.

 In Hatcliffe, Markham said there were more than 2 000 eligible voters who were not yet been registered.

 In other parts of Borrowdale, he said there are at least 500 people who have not yet been registered. Markham, recommended that the national identity registration blitz caters for Gukurahundi victims and ex-farmworkers, among other vulnerable groups that have continually been excluded from obtaining IDs.

Kazembe said the Civil Registry department had managed to issue over a million identity documents to youths nationwide during the blitz and 1 423 of those were for Hatcliffe and Borrowdale residents.

Investigations by The NewsHawks have also revealed that more than half of the people in Chiredzi South are finding it difficult to participate in economic development programmes due to lack of national identity cards and birth certificates, resulting in youths from the area crossing illegally into South Africa to look for menial jobs.

The constituency, located in the middle of the Limpopo, Runde, Sengwe and Bubi rivers, borders Mozambique and South Africa. More than 80% of the people come from the Shangani community.

The Shangani have been under-represented in Zimbabwe as a minority group inhabiting the remotest parts of the south-east lowveld with their culture and values having been criticised as backward and conservative.

The area neither has proper roads nor mobile network coverage and locals are relying on Mozambican and South African telecommunications service providers. Local radio and television transmission also not accessible.

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