Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust (ZEAT) national coordinator Robson Chikwinya has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of bias in ongoing voter registration ahead of the 2023 elections.
Chikwinya claimed that ZEC is putting more resources into rural areas to ensure that more people in perceived ZANU PF strongholds are on the voters’ roll whilst frustrating those in urban areas. He said:
As an organisation, we have noted that ZEC is doing more to make sure that the registration centres for rural areas register more people than those in towns.
It seems there is bias somewhere, somehow as more people are being registered in rural areas than towns… I feel that ZEC must be more serious and treat the rural virgin voter equally as the urban one.
ZEC must up the game and also make sure that each polling centre is a registration centre.
As ZEAT we are currently engaging ZEC and Parliament over the issue so that the right to vote is guaranteed to everyone regardless of location.
Human rights lawyer Freddy Masarirevhu, who has been conducting a voter mobilising campaign since February, also accused ZEC of deliberately making it hard for people to register as voters. Said Masarirevhu:
The ZEC staff members are in most cases hostile to the citizens who want to register to vote.
Sometimes they set conditions that are unnecessary. One day, they were saying they were registering people who are below the age of 20 and the majority of those we had mobilised were above 20.
All the prospective registrants failed to register to vote. Such deliberate disenfranchisement of the voting process should be addressed urgently to achieve free and fair elections.
However, ZEC chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana denied claims that the elections management body was deliberately frustrating first-time voters.
He said continuous voter registration is being conducted at all ZEC provincial and district offices during working hours. | NewsDay