The 4th phase of the biometric voter registration (BVR) blitz has ended with over 4,6 million people having been registered countrywide.
While the BVR blitz ended today, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the registering exercise will continue at 63 permanent stations dotted around the country.
ZEC Acting Chairperson, Commissioner Emmanuel Magade however expressed reservations that the initial target of the 7 million voters was far-fetched.
He also said if funds permit, they will extend blitz in January 2018 to accommodate the registration of aliens, who have since been cleared by the courts to register and vote, as well as the remaining eligible voters with proper documentation.
Of the 4,6 million prospective voters registered, those in rural areas constitute 80 percent of the figure, while the remaining 20 percent is from Harare and Bulawayo.
Calls for mop up
A number of prospective voters are calling for a mop up exercise to capture those who failed to register due to challenges beyond their control when registration teams visited their communities.
In Chipinge (Manicaland) and Bindura (Mashonaland Central), a sizeable number of voters still throng the only centres open at government offices for the BVR following the completion of the blitz.
A number of reasons, ranging from health challenges to being absent when the first phase began are being cited by the aspiring voters, who say a mop up exercise would help reduce the number of people queuing and ensure every eligible citizen can exercise their right to vote.
An information technology expert, Beven Mkeya said some people who reside where local radio and television is not accessible missed BVR broadcasting campaigns, with language barriers also contributing to failure to register of minority groups who include the those with speech, hearing and sight impairments.
In Matabeleland South Province, 199,320 out of 356,586 prospective voters have registered to vote under the four BVR blitz phases, translating to 55 percent.
Lack of identity particulars is among the reasons cited by Gwanda residents for not registering to vote, while the Zimbabwe’s Women Bureau representative, Nomsa Vela said the distances that the elderly have to walk to the nearest registration centre in the rural areas is a factor worth addressing.
ZEC’s Acting Provincial Elections Officer, Mr Rabson Nyoni said there is need for political parties, which are critical stakeholders, to encourage their supporters to register to vote.
In the province, ZEC has turned away 581 people without national IDs, those with defaced particulars as well as aliens without long birth certificates.
In Mashonaland East Province, inefficiencies at the Registrar General’s office were noted. A visibly drunk man manned the Registrar General’s Offices in Murehwa.
The worker later left the office to a nearby bottle store which left members of the public complaining.
In Mashonaland West Province, challenges related to unfavourable weather conditions, lack of timely synchronisation of systems between ZEC and the Registrar General’s Office, and poor communication infrastructure in some areas threatened the smooth running of the BVR process in some parts of the province.
According to ZEC Mashonaland West Provincial Elections Officer, Mr Austin Ndlovu, cloudy weather occasionally slowed down the voter registration exercise especially in rural areas where BVR kits were being powered by solar energy.
Mr Ndlovu added that remote areas such as Kariba rural and parts of Hurungwe posed challenges relating to poor communication as they have no requisite infrastructure, while the nature of the topography in such areas made even satellite communication impossible.
Although there are still some minor challenges in the Midlands Province, ZEC is satisfied with the process which has seen close to 700,000 people registering.