Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is embarking on a Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) mop-up exercise, which will run from today to February 8, to cater for potential registrants who failed to register in the previous exercise. ZEC has since reduced its target of seven million registered voters on the BVR system to five million, after registering nearly 4,9 million voters in the initial blitz.
The mop-up exercise will target mostly areas where teams from the Registrar-General are deployed, particularly where national identity cards were issued after the first BVR voter registration blitz. ZEC said the new initiative did not signal the end of the registration process, but a cut-off date that enables it to prepare a provisional voters roll.
Registration is expected to continue at 63 districts across the country. Addressing journalists in the capital yesterday, ZEC acting chairperson Mr Emmanuel Magade said its initial target to register seven million voters was overambitious. “I think we were overly ambitious; we were extravagantly ambitious,” he said. “Zimbabwe has a population of 15 million people and out of those 15 million, between 50 and 55 percent are under 18, so they will be ineligible, anyway, to register.
“A significant number of our citizens are in the Diaspora and at any rate by international standards, registering 70 percent of the targeted population is very good.” Mr Magade said the five million voters was the threshold ZEC was working with and the commission was confident of meeting the target.
“The exercise has been reasonably successful,” he said. “Speaking for myself, if we had a voters roll, come nomination day, consisting of plus or minus 5,5 million people, that would be very respectable figure and we would all have cause to celebrate. At 4,9 million people, we are within shouting distance of 5,5 million.”
From 2008 to 2013, the active voting population in Zimbabwe did not exceed 3,2 million, even for the referendum, according to ZEC. Mr Magade said 2 850 mobile and 87 static registration centres would be established for the mop-up exercise. The commission will deploy 446 kits, 87 of which will be at static centres that include provinces, districts and sub-districts offices, while the remaining 359 kits will be roving. “It should be noted that the extension of the BVR exercise is being done in the spirit of inclusivity so that no eligible Zimbabwean registrant is left out of the process,” said Mr Magade.
“The commission is also cognisant of the fact that there was also another category of people, the so-called “aliens”, who were adversely affected before the intervention of the courts of law, who should be granted an equal opportunity to register during this mop-up exercise.” ZEC embarked on a national BVR exercise from September 14 to December 19 last year, registering 4 879 482 voters countrywide.
During the same period, the Registrar-General also embarked on a nationwide exercise issuing national identity cards, births and deaths certificates and other documents related to civil registration. The voter and civil registration exercises were initially not synchronised, resulting in some people being left out of the voter registration blitz. The requirements for one to register as a voter during the mop-up exercise were one’s identity document and proof of residence.
Potential registrants should be above 18 years. Mr Magade noted that as prescribed by law, those in the Diaspora are ineligible to vote.