BY TATENDA CHITAGU
THOUSANDS of potential voters, who are squatters or of no fixed abode without proof of residence are being disenfranchised as they cannot register to vote, an electoral advocacy and democracy think tank has noted.
Elections Resource Centre (ERC) programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu said thousands of people, including vendors, did not have national identity cards and, therefore, could not register to vote.
Bobosibunu said this while addressing delegates at the launch of the enhanced informal sector voter mobilisation and advocacy initiative campaign in Masvingo on Monday.
The campaign was organised by the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset).
“The voter registration process should not be restrictive to those without proof of residence,” Bobosibunu said.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officers at registration centres should commission whoever would have come to register without proof of residence, or allow lawyers to commission such people so that registration is not cumbersome, otherwise some voters would be deprived of their constitutional rights.
“Most youths and vendors do not have proof of residence. There are quite a significant number of voters shut out. Registration should be open to every Zimbabwean. We are also engaging lawyers to commission such people, but we hope Zec officers should do that as well to those of no fixed aboard,” he said, adding that at the moment, the number of registered voters remained low, partly due to COVID-19 lockdown movement restrictions and the fact that voter registration centres are centralised.
“People are travelling long distances of up to 50km out of Masvingo city. They need bus fare to come and register. For those who manage to come, spend a long time at the registration venue, yet some people are vendors or have a busy work schedule,” he
Viset executive director Samuel Wadzai said: “We want to locate the vendors in the electoral processes. We have realised most vendors do not participate in the electoral processes as they do not have proof of residence. It is their constitutional right to participate in electoral processes. We are working with other organisations to facilitate our members to get the documentation for them to register to vote.”
He said Viset would offer shuttle services to vendors intending to vote throughout the country.
According to the 2018 voters roll, only 44,3% of youths were registered to vote, yet they constitute over 66% of the population.