BY SILAS NKALA
VILLAGERS in parts of Nkayi district, Matabeleland North province, have revealed that they were left out in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) biometric voter registration (BVR) blitz which ran from April 11 to 30.
This was exposed during a Nkayi Community Parliament virtual discussion on Monday where some villagers claimed that they were never informed about the voter registration blitz and did not even see any Zec registration centres in their area.
The voter registration blitz ended on April 30 with various electoral stakeholders calling for its extension to allow new voters to register to vote in preparation for next year’s 2023 general elections.
Nkayi villager Thompson Ndlela claimed that the Zec voter registration teams did not pitch up in his rural area.
“People in my area did not hear about the voter registration blitz. It was news to them that people were actually registering to vote,” Ndlela said.
“It means that a lot of people are not being given an opportunity to register to vote. It is actually shocking, and a lot of people do not have registration documents. What it means is that those that are at the voting age will not be registered to vote next year,” he said.
Nkayi Community Parliament speaker Nhlanhla Ncube from Zwelabo village said several villagers in Nkayi would be disenfranchised, which shows that the BVR registration blitz excluded marginalised
“There is no communication, but when it comes to Zanu PF meetings in the area, they are well communicated. When it comes to voter registration, suddenly the communication approach becomes ineffective. Zec should improve communication channels,” Ncube said.
Nkayi villager, Thembelani Dube said Zec should revisit the whole of Nkayi North to allow villagers to exercise their constitutional right to identity documents and register to vote.
“The schools are now open and they have to make use of the learners in the respective schools to convey information on the registration dates and centres, and reach out to all the people of Nkayi district since the radio and television network is bad,” Dube said.
Nkosilathi Ncube of Dlawa village said in his part of Nkayi, the first phase of the voter registration blitz was conducted during the rainy season, but many people failed to access registration centres.
“The distances that people had to travel to the voter registration centres were long and others had to incur expenses,” Dube
Zec’s Matabeleland North provincial elections officer Richard Sibanda could not be reached for comment as he kept on cutting calls from NewsDay.
Meanwhile, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Bulawayo spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza said the party would continue with its voter registration campaigns to ensure as many people register to vote in next year’s general elections.
“We urge Zec to create BVR kiosks in suburbs and remote areas. The Registrar-General’s office should also enable people to get identity documents because at the moment they only issue 100 per day,” Chirowodza said.