Throughout the country, people are turning out to register to vote in their numbers but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, with the assistance of Zanu PF, are making frantic efforts to snuff out the national craze through unnecessary bureaucracy and a deliberate creation of chaos.
The MDC is seriously disturbed by the slowness of the process in serving prospective registrants which can only point to a desperate attempt to blight the growing national enthusiasm to register to vote.
However, we are heartened by the spirit of Zimbabweans who are exhibiting a lot of patience with the slow process, showing their eagerness to exercise their democratic right to vote, a right that was at the centre of the country's liberation struggle. For example at a voter registration centre at Mount Pleasant sub-district office in ward 17 yesterday, hundreds of people waited patiently for over three hours in a clear testimony of their zest to exercise their democratic right.
However, despite the people's enthusiasm, we are disheartened by the chaos being created in some areas, which we can only assume is a deliberate ploy to cause confusion and disenfranchise the lot of Zimbabwe. The chaos speaks to an electoral management body that is not ready to run a clean and credible process.
The unpreparedness of ZEC continues to stand out throughout the process. At St Aidan's primary school in Chitungwiza South yesterday, hundreds of voters were turned away after the electoral management body said their computers were failing to read the venue as a registration centre. At Seke 11 primary in the same consituency, the headmaster of the school turned away the ZEC officials who had arrived with their equipment, saying he had not received any circular from his superiors that the school was a registration centre. Hundreds of prospective voters were left stranded as a result of that confusion.
It is also turning out that Zanu PF is panicking about its imminent defeat in the next election. The party has now resorted to intimidating village heads, confiscating their stamps to stop them from assisting voters who need their proof of residence stamped by the traditional leaders. A lot of village heads have complained about that intimidation and how they are being disabled from executing their mandate through desperate acts of thuggery. A case in point is Gokwe Kabuyuni, where Zanu PF has panicked over the high number of people wishing to register to vote. A headman Nenyunga has been forced to confiscate stamps from all the village heads who were willing to assist villagers to exercise their democratic right to vote. In Mutoko East in ward 16, at Kaunye primary school, prospective voters claimed intimidation by Zanu PF. They said Zanu PF officials had pitched a tent outside the registration centre and were taking down details on the voter registration certificate of every prospective voter coming out of the centre.
We note with serious concern that ZEC appears ill-prepared to execute its Constitutional mandate. Impediments are deliberately being thrown into the whole process, amid reports that at some centres the electoral management body is claiming that VR 9 forms have run out. The forms can be used as proof of residence and their so-called shortage is leaving a lot of potential voters stranded and helpless. There are also no commissioners of oath at most registration centres to assist prospective registrants.
The voter registration certificates themselves are fraught with a lot of anomalies, with notable variations and inconsistencies on their format.
Zimbabweans continue to brave the impediments that are being thrown into this whole process. We also note with concern the chaos surrounding the process, which has exposed ZEC as not ready to deliver a credible election despite the never-say-die spirit of Zimbabweans who want to register to vote out this incompetent regime.
We continue to urge Zimbabweans to turn out in their numbers to register to vote. We are heartened by the spirit of the people of this country and we urge ZEC to step up to the plate by ensuring that Zimbabweans are registered to vote.
ZEC must deliver on its mandate.
In the meantime, we salute the spirit of Zimbabweans and we urge them to turn up for this important process. It is the only one chance that we get in every five years to put in office a government that will deliver positive change in the lives of all Zimbabweans regardless of race, colour, creed or political affiliation.
We have no doubt in our minds that Zimbabweans know that the only person who can extricate this country from its current predicament is none other than Morgan Richard Tsvangirai. His record speaks for itself.
Let us all register to vote. The right to vote is a right for which many Zimbabweans paid the supreme price. We must not betray the spirit of the departed patriots of this land by staying away from this important process, whatever impediments ZEC and Zanu PF may wish throw in our way.
Obert Chaurura Gutu
Movement for Democratic Change
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