263 Chat-BVR Must Be Carried Out Under International Standards: ERC

Election Resource Centre (ERC) has urged Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to adhere to international principles of voter registration ahead of the Biometric Voter registration likely to start in August this year.

By Faith Zvorufura

In a statement released on Tuesday, Tawanda Chimhini, ERC Executive Director said the-introduction of the proof of residence as a pre-requisite for voter registration potentially threatens the principle of inclusivity.

“This happening ahead of the imminent voter registration exercise potentially threatens the principle of inclusivity which is desirable for credible elections to be attained,” he said.

Chimhini called for a fair, comprehensive, credible, transparent, inclusive and relatively easy voter registration process.

ERC was responding to a story that appeared in The Sunday Mail of 18 June 2017, reporting that prospective voters are required to produce physical proof of permanent residence for eligibility to register to vote, a shift from an earlier proposal that sought to enlist voters on the roll without producing residency documentation, alternatively allowing prospective voters to use affidavits swearing to their place of residence.

Chimhini said the provision of proof of residence will further disenfranchise potential registrants.

“The ERC is deeply worried in that a strict requirement on proof of residence will disenfranchise hordes of prospective voter who invariably could fail to obtain the required proof. In such a situation any attempt at registering voters conscious of administrative hurdles like proof of residence will fall short of fulfilling the voter registration principle of accessibility.

“The ERC is worried that obtaining a proof of residence might be a challenge to many people in the both rural and urban areas who are likely to be disenfranchised by the requirement due to known constraints related to reluctance by traditional leaders and land owners who might be miffed by one`s allegiance to a particular political inclination” Chimhini said.

According to ERC the re-introduction of proof of residence requirement will infringe on the rights of every eligible citizen to vote as enunciated in section 67 (3) of the constitution of Zimbabwe which provide for the right to vote to every Zimbabwean who is eighteen or over the age of eighteen years of age.

Chimhini called for special measures to eliminate barriers that might come up with the requirement of the proof of residence to enable all eligible voters to register to vote.