Mugabe launches voter registration 

 Harare – President Robert Mugabe on  Thursday officially launched the start of the voter registration  process for the 2018 general elections, with a call for all  Zimbabweans over the age of 18 to “register in their numbers”.

Zimbabwe holds elections once every five years, with the next one due  next year.

And for the 2018 polls, the country will for the first time be using the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process, which will run for the next four months.

Last week, President Mugabe proclaimed September 14, 2017 as the date  for the commencement of the voter registration process and January 15, 2018 as the last day.

Mugabe, followed by First Lady Grace Mugabe and the country’s  two Vice Presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko and their spouses, were the first to go through the registration process.

 “The Biometric Voter Registration is a new registration for all  citizens who are 18 years and above,” Mugabe said.

 “I therefore urge all eligible Zimbabweans to go to their established  centres to register in their numbers.”

 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau  said following the launch, voter registration will commence at all the  country’s 63 district offices on 18 September.

 “ZEC is going to conduct a national blitz for the very first voters’ rolls from mid-October,” Makarau said.

 “The national blitz will be conducted simultaneously in all the  provinces.”

 During the drive, registration centres will be set up in all wards  across the country, Makarau said.

 She said eligible voters were free to register anywhere around the  country.

 However, the proof of residence they will provide at registration will  determine the area and specific polling station where they will be allocated to vote on polling day.

ZEC has said it expects to register up to seven million voters.

 Responding to criticism on lack of preparedness, Makarau said the  electoral body was fully prepared for the polls.

 “We are ready for this exercise, we would not have sought your  (President Mugabe) advice to issue the proclamation if we were not  ready,” she said.

 “We have the resources financially and our people have been trained on  how to operate the kits and are ready to register all Zimbabweans.”

 Treasury availed $17 million which the electoral body requested for  the exercise, the ZEC chairperson said.

 Makarau said it was untrue that those who turn 18 after January 15  will be disenfranchised.

 “Voter registration in Zimbabwe is continuous. It will continue after  the 15th of January until the Nomination Court sits and 12 days after  the nomination Court sits, the voters roll will close for the purposes  of that election.”

 The dates for the sitting of the Nomination Court will likely be set  next year.

 – New Ziana

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