All set for mobile voter registration blitz: Zec

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Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said on Monday it has put place adequate logistics to conduct the countrywide mobile voter registration blitz which begins on Tuesday.

The blitz is being done over two phases, with the first one running from February 1 to 28 while the second will be held between April 11 and 30 this year.

Over 2 700 centres have been established throughout the country for the first phase of the exercise in addition to the 73 permanent district and provincial centres.

ZEC chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana told the media that the blitz would inform the delimitation exercise to be conducted after the national population census to be held later this year.

“Preliminaries for the voter registration exercise such as the acquisition of additional personnel, training of voter educators and voter registration officers have been completed. Currently, the deployment of personnel and equipment is underway,” he said.

“The commission has presented an estimated budget of ZWL4.5 billion for the mobile voter registration exercise which Treasury has commenced to fund.”

Silaigwana said ZEC had put in place contingencies to deal with potential challenges that might disturb the registration itinerary.

“The incessant heavy rains, which have caused flooding in low-lying areas present a potential challenge of personnel and equipment deployment in certain areas for the commission. Already, flooding has been reported in Chimanimani, Muzarabani, Mudzi, Chipinge, Chikombedzi, and Beitbridge just to name a few.

“Depending on the situation on the ground, the registration teams have been advised to adjust their itineraries accordingly and re-visit the affected areas once the flooding has receded. The affected communities and other stakeholders will be advised of any such changes,” he said.

Silaigwana said ZEC was targeting as many potential registrants as possible and was encouraged that the Registrar General’s department was working round the clock to ensure access to national identity documents, which are a prerequisite for voter registration.

ZEC had initially intended to start the blitz on December 6 last year but postponed it following consultations with stakeholders to allow eligible prospective voters to acquire national identity cards.

Covid-19 induced lockdowns had resulted in a backlog in issuing national identity documents.

“By then (December last year) they were not very ready to go out and give IDs but we are informed that process is being rectified. We hope that within the (voter registration) period, as you can see our period is lengthy, they will be able to put their systems together so that those who need IDs can get them,” said Silaigwana.

The voter registration blitz is part of several pre-election activities that ZEC and other relevant stakeholders have lined up in preparation for the 2023 polls.

One such stakeholder, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, is preparing to conduct a national population census this year whose results would also guide the creation of new electoral maps and boundaries to be used in 2023.

The population census is being held a year earlier specifically for that purpose.

In December last year, ZEC revealed that it had only registered close to 3 000 new voters during the course of the whole year.

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