By Moses Chibaya
Harare, June 05, 2017 – ZIMBABWE National Students Union (Zinasu) secretary general, Makomborero Haruzivishe has urged authorities to establish registration centre at colleges and universities to allow students to register for next year’s elections. Haruzivishe said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has for years disenfranchised students by failing to allocate registration centres at places convenient for tertiary students. “It’s pragmatic and progressive for ZEC, acting within the national interest, to allocate registration centres within colleges and universities so that students also register to vote,” he said.
Section 67 (3) of the country’s constitution allows every citizen who is of or over eighteen years of age the right to vote. Haruzivishe says this is being violated. “ZEC technically denies this right by not allocating special registration centres for students,” he said. Zinasu is among the 14 local organisations that signed a 2014 petition on electoral reforms. The petition was submitted to parliament by a regional poll watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC). Haruzivishe said the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has an estimated student population of 16 000, the Midlands State University (MSU) has around 25 000 and as of 2016 the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) had over 15 000 full-time students which is almost the size of a constituency hence its crucial for the election management body to consider that. “There should be a special arrangement that even if a student is at University of Zimbabwe but resides in Mutoko or Chendambuya he should register at the college but still be able to vote in Mutoko where he or she resides,” said the Zinasu secretary general.
Meanwhile, ERC executive director, Tawanda Chimhini said there is need for inclusive and wide ranging efforts towards correcting past electoral malpractices through enactment of electoral legislation and institutional regulations which conform to international best practices for democratic elections. Chimhini said Zec must consider principles of voter registration that have been flagged out by various observer missions and political parties such as accessibility, inclusivity, stakeholder participation, an informed public, security, comprehensiveness, integrity, credibility, and accountability. The July 2013 polls were marred by a number of electoral challenges chief among them being issues around inadequate voter education, inadequate and inaccessible voter registration, a contested and inaccessible voters’ roll, a chaotic special voting process, lake of timely financial support to ZEC and independence of ZEC.