Electoral Amendment Bill eases requirements for registering as a voter

THE new and recently approved Electoral Amendment Bill  of 2022 will help a majority of previously disadvantaged citizens exercise their right to vote during elections including the forthcoming General Elections set for July-August next year.

According to the amendment which was presented to Cabinet recently, members of the public only need proof that they are Zimbabwean to register as voters.

Previously, prospective voters were required to produce proof of residence to register to vote and some tenants would face challenges in acquiring the proof of residence as some landlords were not so keen to indulge them.

This coupled with the fact that Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)  offices are stationed far away from residents often discouraged members of the public from registering to vote.

Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said people are now required to produce a valid passport or national identity card as proof of identity before they register to vote.

“In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, one has to be a citizen in order to qualify as a voter, accordingly, only a valid passport or national identity card will be required as proof of identity. Once the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 is enacted into law, it will assist in ensuring that only citizens are able to vote in an election, that proper candidates are allowed to contest in an election, providing clarity on when and how a candidate can withdraw their candidature in an election so as to afford ZEC sufficient time to make changes to the design of the ballot and advising the electorate of any changes to the candidature in an election,” said  Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa during the Cabinet briefing.

Commenting on the new development,  Innocentia Masuku said the scrapping of proof of residence will guarantee more residents registering as they are  mere lodgers.

“I live in Mpopoma and we are three families in one extended house meaning all 12 of us eligible to vote needed some written documentation to prove that we live there. Our landlord is in South Africa and the process of trying to get that documentation was such a hindrance and we are happy that the Cabinet has approved that we register with our identity cards,” said Masuku.

Nokuthaba Siwela from Pumula South said some landlords were difficult  and were not keen to write documents proving residence for their tenants.

“Cabinet should be applauded for this move,  they have come to our rescue  as we were at the mercy of our tenants. While some are willing to listen, others made the process so difficult and many of us missed out during the 2018 elections because we could not  prove that we stay in Bulawayo.

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