Call to intensify BVR education to masses

ACTIVISTS, political parties and civic groups were urged to help in educating Zimbabweans about the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process as citizens register as voters ahead of the 2018 elections.

The message came out of a voter mobilisation refresher workshop held by the Elections Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) in Harare recently.

ERC programmes manager Jack Zaba said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) alone cannot cover every nook and crevice of the country.

"Informing voters about the BVR should be the duty of everyone because no single institution can achieve it. Political parties who want to be voted must spread the information to their followers. Everyone must be involved," he said.
The workshop was attended by 63 community monitors from all 10 provinces.

His sentiments come amid concerns and revelations through citizen reports in different parts of the country during the BVR registration which commenced recently that many people are uninformed.

Zaba also urged voters to verify their registration slip to see if all details were correct before leaving the registration centres, adding that the BVR process would not solve all problems facing elections in Zimbabwe.

"You need to verify the information during voter registration and ensure the details that are recorded about you are correct before leaving the voter registration centre," he said.

"As a process to clean the voter's roll of duplications and removing the names of dead people, BVR on its own will not solve all our concerns. It will not solve issues like intimidation hence we need to find ways of monitoring and addressing that."

On the issue of affidavit forms which people have been photocopying on their own and the absence of commissioners of oaths at some centres, Zaba said: "What Zec is supposed to do is to provide these services for free."
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Jacob Mafume assisted the participants with stamping their affidavits as a commissioner of oaths to aid their proof of residence.

With the help of the Digital Society of Zimbabwe (DSZ) director, Tawanda Mugari, the workshop unveiled a digital monitoring platform for community monitors which will be available on a mobile phone application.
ZimRights vice chairperson Takesure Musiiwa urged people to register to vote in their numbers to counter any fears of vote manipulation.
"Government’s infiltration of institutions that should be independent is not only a concern in Zimbabwe, but all over Africa," he said.
"We need to find ways of countering that and register to vote in our numbers. We are going to mobilise as many people as we can. This is why ERC and ZimRights agreed to have this training to add value to the system." 
ERC training and outreach project officer Solomon Bobosibunu, trained the participants on the link between democracy, good governance, constitutionalism and human rights.

It emerged that some names of the registration centres released by Zec had errors like in Hwange of Thomas Coulter Primary School, Bobosibunu urged the community monitors to help indicate such discrepancies to Zec to avoid confusing prospective registrants.

There was also concern about the distance of registration centres with the example of Sanyati and Mhondoro-Ngezi, where the centre is in Kadoma.

The civil society organisations said they will investigate reports that certain people were collecting particulars of people to register them in their absence.
— Staff Writer

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