Voter Registration Scam Unearthed
Leading poll watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has raised red flag over rampant violation of voter registration rules by political parties believed to be dishing out pre-signed affidavit forms to their members.
In an interview with 263Chat on Thursday, ZESN Chairperson, Andrew Makoni said his organisation has received numerous reports of political leaders in Murewa South, Rushinga and Mpopoma distributing pre-signed affidavit forms to their supporters in violation of Section 8 of the Justice and Commissioners of Oaths Act (Chapter 7:09).
“Throughout the first phase ZESN received reports of political leaders like Members of Parliaments and Councilors distributing pre-signed affidavits to their supporters.
“This conduct is a criminal offence and violates section 8 of the Justice of Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act(Chapter 7:09), which provides that the person taking an oath must personally appear before a Commissioner of Oaths,” said Makoni.
According to Section 8 of the Justice and Commissioners of Oaths Act, oaths shall not be administered if there is reason to believe that the person in question is unwilling to make an oath.
Makoni appealed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to investigate such misconduct and take corrective action against offenders.
Makoni further noted that his organisation is concerned by this practice which he attributed to increased intimidation as recipients of pre-signed forms are expected to submit serial numbers of their registration slips to the political leaders which is in violation of the country’s electoral laws.
“It is critical that that all potential registrants freely register in this important exercise thus ZESN is concerned by this practice which has fueled intimidation of registrants who are given the pre-filled affidavits on condition that after registering they submit serial numbers on their registration slips.
Contacted for comment, Spokesperson of the Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), Obert Gutu said ZEC has an obligation to avail enough commissioners of oath within registration centres to avoid such practices.
“Each and every registration centre must have police officers, commissioners of oath and ZEC representatives who must make sure that the process is transparency, yes such cases will happen because it does not make sense for a registration centre to have one commissioner of oath while there are many people to register, they will end up being overwhelmed and that must be prevented,” said Gutu.
Meanwhile, ZESN has castigated Chief Fortune Charumbira who recently endorsed President Robert Mugabe as their preferred candidate ahead of the forthcoming harmonized elections.
“ZESN notes that such pronouncements are in contravention of Section 281(2) of the constitution of Zimbabwe which states that traditional leaders must not belong to any political party nor act in a partisan manner,” said Makoni.
He called on traditional leaders to play their leadership role in a non partisan manner as this is critical to the creation of a conducive environment that allows for the enjoyment by their subjects,of the right to register and freely participate in electoral processes.
Makoni urged ZEC and ZHRC to take action against the intimidation of accredited observers in Chipinge and Epworth calling on the electoral body to ensure that its officers facilitate the observation of electoral processes as this is crucial for promoting transparency and credibility of electoral processes.
According to the statistics provided by ZEC, approximately 1.2 million voters were registered under the phase 1.
ZESN is a coalition of 32 Non Governmental Organisations promoting democratic elections in Zimbabwe and is observing the BVR exercise which commenced on 10 October 2017.