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President sets BVR exercise in motion

President Mugabe is taken through the inaugural biometric voter registration (BVR) process by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission computer technician Noel Shumba at State House in Harare yesterday, marking the commencement of voter registration ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections. — (Picture by Chief Photographer Believe Nyakudjara)

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe yesterday officially launched the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise at State House and became the first person to be registered under the new system that will be used in the creation of a new voters’ roll for the 2018 harmonised elections.First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and his wife Laurinda were also registered at the ceremony.

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President Mugabe said he proclaimed the date for the commencement of voter registration on the advice of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). He also commended ZEC for coming up with a new voter registration system. “Let me take this opportunity to congratulate ZEC for continuously spearheading research and development in the electoral field in Zimbabwe as evidenced by the introduction of the BVR.

“As Government, we stand guided by our Constitution and ZEC on how elections are to be run in this country. “The Constitution of Zimbabwe enjoins Government to play a facilitative role in terms of resourcing and protecting the independence, impartiality, and integrity of such institutions,” the President said.

He urged all people aged 18 and above to go and register at centres that will be established. “The BVR exercise is a new registration for all citizens who are 18 years and above. I therefore urge all eligible Zimbabweans to go to their established centres to register in their numbers,” he said. VP Mnangagwa, who also oversees the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said the adoption of BVR enhanced the country’s electoral processes.

“Today’s launch of the BVR marks a significant milestone development towards the enhancement of electoral processes in Zimbabwe. As a nation we take great pride in the fact that we have always been able to hold our elections whenever they fall due.

“I am therefore pleased that today’s launch reaffirms your commitment and adherence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Zimbabwe by complying with the provisions of the conduct of elections. Furthermore, as we have always done, we continue to abide by the rule of law and constitutionalism in our country,” VP Mnangagwa said.

He said ZEC had consistently briefed him as minster responsible for the administration of the Electoral Act, on research activities they were conducting that led to the adoption of BVR.

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau reiterated that the President’s proclamation setting dates for the commencement of the voter registration exercise was meant to give legal effect to the process.

“We want to thank you President Mugabe for the proclamation. The importance of that proclamation maybe lost to many but without that proclamation ZEC would not have started the voter registration exercise,” she said.

Justice Makarau said voter registration would start in other districts countrywide on Monday next week following yesterday’s official launch. “Continuous voter registration will commence at all ZEC’s district offices from Monday 18 September 2017 with some of the kits received so. These kits will be permanently stationed at the district centres,” she said.

ZEC has so far received 400 kits some of which have been used to train the technicians that would be involved in the registration exercise. Justice Makarau added that ZEC will conduct a national blitz to register all registered voters once the remaining 2 600 kits are delivered.

She said the electoral body will publish the registration centres in due course established in each ward. “ZEC will be launching an extensive voter education and publicity campaign to educate the public about this new exercise and the requirements for registration.

“After the last day proclaimed as the latest day for the receipt of applications for registration, ZEC will commence internal processes of cleaning the roll and removing duplicates. Thereafter a provisional role will be printed and presented for inspection by the electorate,” she added.

Justice Makarau said after inspection and further cleaning of the roll, if necessary, ZEC will issue a notice in the Gazette fixing a date on which the voters roll produced would be declared as the definitive roll.

“This voters’ roll shall be the basis upon which the continuous registration of voters in terms of Section 17A shall be conducted. “All eligible voters’ not registered during the national blitz period will be registered. The voters’ roll for elections in terms of the law, closes 12 days after the nomination day.”