By Fungai Kwaramba
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s forthcoming elections are on the ropes, with revelations
that cash shortages are threatening a key voter registration exercise which
has become the subject of fresh wrangling.
Apart from the cash woes announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(Zec) yesterday, an MP from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC on the
same day tabled a motion in Parliament to force a fresh start to mobile
The MP, Settlement Chikwinya, also wants Finance minister Tendai Biti to be
forced to release adequate money for voter registration. He also wants
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai “not to
proclaim any date for elections before they agree to a voters’ roll that has
to be compiled to the satisfaction of all citizens eligible”.
Both the MDC and Mugabe’s Zanu PF view voter registration as the most
critical electoral process.
Zanu PF’s United Nations (UN) election funding snub is now haunting Zec, as
the broke Treasury has failed to inject adequate funding to the mobile voter
registration process that is shrouded by controversy.
Out of an expected $8 million required to carry out the three week long
voter registration blitz — the government has only injected $500 000 — a
pittance that has left Zec with a serious headache.
The UN assistance was expected to be about $132 million, but Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is Mugabe’s election point-man, said the UN
wanted to interfere in local politics by attaching conditions to poll
After slamming the door on the UN, Mugabe and his Zanu PF have been saying
the country would finance the cumbersome process from internal sources, such
as the Chiadzwa diamonds, but facts on the ground are proving otherwise.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau admitted that
the electoral body is cash-strapped and this could affect the credibility of
the electoral process.
A lack of publicity and also some bottlenecks have resulted in a low turnout
of people registering as voters and Makarau yesterday said they will
continue monitoring the progress of the blitz with the possibility of an
“Zec admits that the deployment of two voter educators per district is far
from adequate and may not cover all eligible voters. This is because the
voter education exercise has, to date, only received $500 000 from Treasury,
against a budget of $8 601,712.
“Against this background, the voter educators deployed will, unless more
funds are allocated to Zec in the next few days, have no efficient transport
to move throughout the districts allocated them.
“Most, if not all, (of the voter educators) have to walk the entire length
and breadth of their respective wards, some of which are fairly large,” she
After Zanu PF’s UN snub, Biti proposed to introduce a cocktail of measures
that included flouting bonds and an increase in excise duty on fuel to
bankroll the process.
This comes as a local civil body that monitors elections, the Election
Resource Centre (ERC), says there are anomalies in the on-going mobile voter
“Whilst the process is continuing in some of the areas, the outreach is
evidently yet to be witnessed in most electoral districts.
“In places which the mobile registration teams have visited, a number of
potential voters remain disenfranchised due to a myriad of challenges
ranging from lack of publicity, inadequate time allocation, the cost of
registration, limited civil registration services and difficulties in
acquiring necessary documents like proof of residence,” reads part of ERC’s
report released yesterday.
Makarau told reporters that if a potential voter fails to produce required
documents such as rental cards, lease agreements, credit store statements,
hospital bills, telephone bills or a sworn statement from the employer, then
the person should depose a sworn affidavit.
“Where the citizen seeking registration as a voter in unable to produce any
of the above documents, they can and must depose to an affidavit swearing
that they are resident at a place located within the ward.
“No one should, therefore, be turned away or be denied the right to be
registered as a voter on account of inadequate or lack of documents proving
residence,” said Makarau.
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