ZEC anticipating to register about 7 million voters but no diaspora vote

Harare – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said on Thursday it is anticipating to register about seven million voters as the country prepares for the 2018 general elections.

Zimbabwe is for the first time using the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system and will establish a new voters roll ahead of the polls.

The system entails use of unique individual identification techniques such as fingerprints and irises to identify voters.

Previously, voters just used their national identification documents to register.

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told stakeholders that the Commission already had $7.59 million sitting in its account waiting to be transferred to the equipment provider, the Laxton Group of China, for the provision of 3 000 BVR kits.

“Initially we wanted to purchase 1 500 kits. We decided to double the number of kits because we are cognisant of the limited time that we now have to register the voters,” she said.

Justice Makarau said money transfers would be made by the end of next week to facilitate timely arrival of the first batch of equipment.

It is expected that it will take at least four minutes to register one person, Justice Makarau said, adding the voter registration exercise would take two and half months.

“You can go and register anywhere as long as you have the required documents. You do not necessarily have to be in your constituency,” she said about the voter registration process.

The situation would, however, be different on voting day as individual voters would be required to go and vote at particular polling stations that would be assigned to them based on the addresses they would have provided during the registration exercise.

Justice Makarau said Zimbabweans in the Diaspora were free to come back home and register to vote in next year’s polls.

“Come voting day, they (Diasporans) will have to come and vote at polling stations they will have been allocated,” she said, adding ZEC was not going to set up polling stations outside the country.

“Will we establish polling stations outside Zimbabwe? No we will not,” she said.

“And the reason we will not is not because we do not want to, but the law as it currently stands does not give us the power to do so.”

Meanwhile, Justice Makarau said ZEC was negotiating with the United Nations Development Programme to upgrade the capacity of the server that the UN agency donated to the electoral body so that it is able to store all the information that will be gathered during the voter registration exercise.-New Ziana

July 2017
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