BVR VOTING : POLITICIANS, TRADITIONAL LEADERS MISLEADING PEOPLE
Gweru residents have called for the criminalisation of politicians who are misleading prospective voters in next year’s elections by telling them that pictures taken during the ongoing BVR exercise will be used to trace their vote.
Speaking during a Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee public hearing to gather people’s views on the Electoral Amendment Bill, residents accused traditional leaders and politicians of misinforming the public.
“There are certain individuals who are bussing people to voter registration centres and confiscating their registration certificates giving them washing soap and other groceries before telling them that their pictures will be used to tell who they voted for;” Jennifer Chimanga of Mkoba said.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Midlands regional secretary Rebecca Butau said the elderly in rural areas were victims.
“To the ordinary person having three pictures taken is a scary experience because they are suspicious of the intentions. “People are being intimidated so there is need to come up with a law that makes it an offence to do that. That also means that voter education should be started anew. “Others including students wanted the amendments to provide for voting away from one’s constituency and have their votes transferred. “As students we will be away when elections are held but we want to be allowed to vote from wherever we will be and then my vote transferred to my constituency,” said Rodney Buniko.
Residents also called for the scrapping of the proof of residence requirement arguing that it is difficult and expensive at the same time.
“We don’t need all this even the affidavit we don’t need it because it is a cost. What is the need for all this when you already have my biometrics?”
Regional chairperson of the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe Timothy Mpofu said the law should ensure that voters with disabilities especially those who need assistance get help form people they trust.
“We don’t want a situation whereby the police will be helping voters. The disabled should be helped by the people who assist them in their day to say lives.
“We also want prisoners and those in the Diaspora to be allowed to register at Zimbabwean embassies in the countries they reside,” Mpofu said.
The Electoral Amendment Bill is aimed at improving electoral laws and calls on members of the public who feel there are certain sections that should be improved to take their views and incorporate them in a report which the committee will present before Parliament.
Institutions such as Veritas already think that the Electoral Amendment Bill’s scope in its current form is very limited and must be expanded in order to include punitive measures on political parties that perpetrate voter intimidation.