Andrew Kunambura and Bridget Mananavire 5 November 2017
HARARE – Independent observers and poll monitors have reported a marked
increase in interference and abuse of the on-going biometric voter
registration (BVR) exercise by the ruling Zanu PF in the countryside.
In a report released this week, Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) noted that Zanu
PF officials and traditional leaders abused the registration process by
intimidating the rural folk, despite safety assurances by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (Zec).
This comes as political parties have also written to Zec complaining about
intimidation being experienced at registration centres.
On the other hand, religious groups have raised concerns over the conduct
of some officers whom they say are failing to respect their practices.
According to the report, the worst violations were in the month of October
and were recorded in Mashonaland Central Province, where village heads and
Zanu PF officials allegedly took down serial numbers of the prospective
voters’ registration slips as soon as they completed the process.
“For example, HZT notes, in Mt Darwin North ward 4, village head and a
member of the Zanu PF youth league identified as Kudzanai Mutemamombe on
October 26, 2017 forced community members to submit serial numbers of
their registration slips at Kapiriri Primary School while his colleague
identified as John Karikoga, told community members at the same school
that the BVR kits would record videos as people vote in the 2018
elections. He further stated that the information will be used to detect
who would have voted for the opposition, and retribution would follow
after the polls.”
The same method of intimidation was employed in Mbire, Bindura,
Muzarabani, Mazowe and Chiweshe.
Other cases recorded by the organisation include that of village head
Bonas Magodhi from Makonde village, Chivi ward 22, who admitted to
collecting serial numbers but later highlighted that he was not aware of
what the registration slips were going to be used for.
He further highlighted that the directive came from the Zanu PF district
chairperson Saul Matambu.
In Buhera ward 19, village head Ephius Dzingirai also admitted to have
collected serial numbers of the voter registration slips, a directive he
claimed he got from the Zanu PF district chairperson Douglas Musakaruka.
In Hurungwe ward 24, village head secretary David Magodo admitted to have
compiled list of serial numbers and highlighted that all the village heads
in the ward collected the serial numbers unbeknown of the implications
HZT said it “has observed that the BVR related human rights violations
being recorded across the country points to the lack of a robust voter
education exercise. An extensive voter education campaign by Zec would
have helped to demystify the falsehoods, myths and threats being peddled
around the BVR process”.
BeTheChange leader Fadzayi Mahere has written to Zec complaining of
inconsistencies, among them pre-signed proof of residence forms and kits
Muslim women have also been complaining about being made to remove their
head scarfs during the process.
In response, Zec said it was applying the same requirements to everyone
“and does not discriminate on grounds of religion or any other social