The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to expedite and decentralize the voter registration process so that people in hard-to-reach areas can be catered for.
While commending ZEC for remaining active in 63 districts and 10 provincial centres across the country, the recently published Long Term Election Observation Update said there is a greater need for voter education and registration to target people who may find it difficult to do so in designated places.
“There is a need to ensure the decentralization of voter registration from the district and provincial offices to strategic places where large numbers of people gather.
“Civic and voter education primarily focusing on peaceful co-existence and peacebuilding may prove vital in ensuring the maintenance of peace,” the report said.
It further stated that voter registration remains low despite some efforts being put by ZEC in encouraging people to register.
ZESN said this could be attributed to a lack of reforms on the part of ZEC and that the electoral reform discourse is overdue as the 2023 elections draw closer.
“In August, ZEC briefly deployed voter registration teams to public spaces including at the Matabeleland South Agricultural Show in Gwanda and the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in Harare.
“Some indications were that aspiring, as well as incumbent Members of Parliament and Councillors in some constituencies, were facilitating or encouraging people to register to vote through various interventions including providing transport.
“The turnout for voter registration, however, remains low. At the Harare Agricultural Show, ZEC had a stand where it exhibited the work of the Commission, had a voter registration team on site, and conducted a survey on whether political parties should be registered and regulated in Zimbabwe,” ZESN said.