SCORES of people in Harare last week failed to register as voters ahead of next month’s elections amid allegations that government officials were deliberately frustrating them.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
Most voter registration points around the city were marked by long and winding queues which moved at a snail’s pace.
This resulted in many people abandoning the process altogether.
The Standard last week toured some of Harare’s high-density suburbs and witnessed people wearing long faces on queues.
At Mbare’s Mai Musodzi Hall, people were scattered all over the grounds pondering if they would ever be registered.
Many were complaining that they had sacrificed their daily chores, while others said they were hungry.
Others eventually abandoned the exercise altogether.
A visibly pregnant woman counted herself among the lucky ones when she was whisked inside the centre where she was served quickly after a police officer was made aware of her presence.
In an interview with The Standard, people lamented that they were wasting time in long queues instead of fending for their families.
“For some of us, the more we waste time here, the more we lose out in our business of vending,” said one Eleanor Gazi.
She said her busy schedule would not allow her to come back the next day or even try another station. “I have failed to register, I might be at the border by the end of day,” she said.
The situation was worse at Huruyadzo Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza where restless people were milling around the hall. Police were manning the crowd.
“We were told that people had been given numbers and that the officers would deal with those only and would only attend to us when they were done with them,” said one woman, who had been in the queue for over an hour. “But seeing that they are so many, we might as well go home.”
Many could be seen abandoning their vigil outside the hall, going home.
An official at Huruyadzo registration centre, who requested anonymity, said they had not anticipated such a huge turnout.
The situation was made worse as some sought to first sort out their identification particulars before they could register as voters.
The so-called “aliens” were the most affected as it was also quite a laborious process to get IDs.
One vendor, who identified himself only as Baba Makaya, said it was frustrating to stand in a queue for a long time without knowing whether one would be served or not.
“We have been in the line but I don’t know if we are going to be able to register,” he said.
MDC-T has accused Registrar- General, Tobaiwa Mudede of trying to fraudulently carry out the voter registration and the inspection of the voters’ roll exercise at district level, instead of the ward level as directed by cabinet.
“The shift by Mudede is nothing but another attempt by the Zanu PF [party] to further disenfranchise the people of Zimbabwe,” said MDC-T in a statement. “The MDC therefore demands that the Registrar-General’s Office and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] unconditionally move this process to the wards.”
MDC-T added: “This will result in overcrowding at the fewer centres allocated leading to the disenfranchisement of the prospective voters. In areas which Mudede unwittingly perceives to be Zanu PF strongholds, he has created more registration centres while in some areas which he perceives to be MDC strongholds; very few centres have been established.”
It said some wards in Harare province have been restricted to a single registration centre with wards 27, 28 and 29 having all been clustered to be served at Glen View A Community Centre for only four days.
The party also claimed that Harare South, which has a Zanu PF MP and has one ward, has been allocated five centres and the team will be deployed to register voters in the one ward for 15 days.
In the Hatfield Constituency held by the MDC, there is not a single centre while in Harare South Constituency which is held by Zanu PF, four centres have been established, said the MDC-T.
Harare South, largely composed of informal community and resettlement areas, is the only constituency presently under the control of Zanu PF in Harare.
Mudede, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has in the past reportedly cited financial constraints to carry out a comprehensive exercise.
“Because of the bungling of the voter registration exercise, the MDC is now in doubt whether ZEC can truly be expected to organise an election that complies with all the provisions of the new Constitution,” said the MDC-T.
ZEC’s deputy public relations officer, Tendayi Pamire referred all questions to the commission’s chief executive officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi.
Questions sent to Sekeramayi had not been responded to by the time of going to Press.