by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ELECTORAL authorities have been urged to extend the voter registration exercise in order to enable Zimbabweans based in South Africa and other neighbouring countries to register during the festive season.
The biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise is set for conclusion on Tuesday (tomorrow). There are indications the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has not reached the targeted 7 million registered voters.
Human rights groups pointed out thousands of Zimbabweans in Botswana and South Africa were unregistered and would be coming home as per norm during the December/January holidays. An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans have sought refuge in South Africa.
“A good number of these Zimbabweans are living illegally in these countries and may have plans to come back to Zimbabwe in the new dispensation,” the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) stated.
The rights groups argued the foreign-based Zimbabweans might have intentions of registering as voters and it was thus prudent for ZEC to offer these citizens the opportunity.
ZPP argued the extension of the BVR exercise was also justifiable considering that the rainy season had begun and the majority of citizens in the rural areas were tilling their fields and might not have had the time or opportunity to travel to the registration centres to register to vote.
“There are also those who made the time to register but may have been discouraged by the charges levied by traditional leaders for proof of residence documentation, and were unable to register,” the organisation stated.
Traditional leaders are infamous for victimizing opposition supporters and partisanship to former president, Robert Mugabe, who was ousted by the military last month.
“The ZPP implores ZEC to facilitate for the extension of the registration period in order for these Zimbabweans to exercise their right to vote,” ZPP stated.
Polls are set for August, the only time since independence in 1980 Mugabe will not feature.
– CAJ News