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CCC wants Registrar-General to take back over voter registration

Under the proposed changes, which will require an amendment of the Constitution, all voter registration processes will be handled by the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office, with first-time national identity (ID) card applicants being automatically registered as voters, while deceased individuals are removed from the voters’ roll soon after the issuance of a death certificate.

It is envisaged that moving delimitation responsibilities from ZEC will mitigate redundancy in its administrative functions.

The proposed amendments stem from recommendations made by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators in the Ninth Parliament ahead of last year’s harmonised elections.

Their contributions were made during debate on changes to the Electoral Amendment Act.The opposition legislators advocated the restoration of voter registration responsibilities to the RG’s Office, a system that was in place before 2009.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told our Harare Bureau that consultations with stakeholders have begun.

It is believed the proposed amendments will be addressed during the 10th Parliament.

“Towards the end of the Ninth Parliament, we deliberated on the Electoral Amendment Act and, indeed, both parties agreed that the current structure of voter registration under the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was an anomaly,” he said.

“This is because these are processes that are required to be done at the RG’s Office, at the Civil Registry Department, under the Ministry of Home Affairs (and Cultural Heritage).

“In fact, the opposition, CCC, had brought in an amendment which they thought would be done, but I then indicated to them that it required a constitutional amendment.

“This is because the Constitution is the one that conferred that function of voter registration to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

“We have now started consultations . . .

“It will be a neater process, because once one turns 18 years, and they go to apply for an ID, they can easily be registered as a voter under the address they would have provided.

“When one is deceased, the system will automatically remove them from the voters’ roll.”

Such a system, he said, will ensure that Zimbabwe has an authentic voters’ roll, which is “better than the current system where ZEC has to rely on information from the RG’s Office”.

Minister Ziyambi said opposition legislators admitted during debate in Parliament that they pushed for the transfer of voter registration responsibilities to ZEC during the Inclusive Government to spite the former RG, Tobaiwa Mudede.

“During the deliberations, the opposition said this amendment had been done because they wanted to spite the then-RG Tobaiwa Mudede.

“So, it was actually called the ‘Tobaiwa Mudede Amendment’, but the consensus is it was wrongly placed.”

He said consultations were also underway to amend the supreme law to allow for an independent commission to take up the responsibilities of drawing up electoral boundaries.

“Again, we had very intense deliberations on the delimitation report,” added Minister Ziyambi.

“The general consensus was ZEC’s mandate should be to conduct elections, thus we must revert back to a system where we used to have a delimitation commission.

“This, again, we agreed in Parliament; it is another area where we might now need to look at.

“We have started on background work to include it if we are to bring in a Constitutional Amendment Bill.”

Once such responsibilities are taken away from ZEC, he further said, the elections management body “will be left with the core function of administering elections, without being involved in the controversies involving the voters’ roll and delimitation”.

Over the past two years, the RG’s Office has issued over a million civil documents, including national ID cards, as well as birth and death certificates.

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