On 10 October 2017, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), launched a Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) blitz across the country. The blitz is a follow up to the launch of the BVR by President Mugabe on the 18th of September 2017. The registration process will last for 72 days and it will be held in four phases with each kit spending 16 days at the established centre. The first phase begins on the 10th of this month until the 25th, the second phase begins on the 29th up to the 13th of November, third phase from the 16th of November to the 1st of December and the fourth and last phase on the 4th to the 19th of December 2017.
Heal Zimbabwe through its resident human rights monitors in all the country’s 10 provinces is monitoring the environment during the voter registration exercise. This is being done with the objective of monitoring the environment and report on any cases of human rights violations during the process as well as making referrals where possible for redress. In 2016, HZT established an early warning and early response system for easy detection and response to cases of human rights violations.
Below is an update of the voter registration process from 02-11 October 2017:
Buhera ward 25
Vengai Muchinami a Village Development Committee (VIDCO) member intimidated community members during a community meeting conducted on the 2nd of October 2017 at Matsetsa Business Centre. He announced that the BVR process will allow ZANU PF to identify all community members who would have voted against ZANU PF. He also stated that once this is done, they will then embark on door to door exercises beating up the “culprits”.
Maramba Pfungwe ward 6
On Tuesday the 9th of October 2017, ZANU PF District chairperson Cleopas Kotuku, village head Chirinda and his secretary Edson Maworera forced people to pay 50 cents towards the issuance of the proof of residence to be used for the BVR process. This happened in Chirinda village in ward 6.
Maramba Pfungwe ward 6
Village head Kerious Marekera intimidated community members during a community meeting conducted on the 9th of October 2017 in Mukwatsine village. The village head ordered community members to submit registration slips to him once they register to vote. He further highlighted that the BVR process will reveal to ZANU PF the candidates that people will have voted for.
Maramba Pfungwe ward 1
Councillor Pedzisai Makoma intimidated community members during a meeting at Nyanzou Primary school on the 4th of October 2017. At this meeting, Councillor Makoma announced that people who will vote for the opposition will be detected by the BVR machines, hence they should repent from supporting the opposition. Councillor Makoma further highlighted that all opposition party supporters will be heavily beaten after the 2018 elections.
Maramba Pfungwe ward 2
Maramba Pfungwe Member of Parliament, Washington Musvaire intimidated village heads during a meeting conducted on the 10th of October 2017 at Gowe Business centre. He instructed all Village heads to record people’s names as they register to vote and ensure that they record their details and serial numbers of voter registration slips.
Mutoko South ward 26
ZANU PF District Chairperson Gift Chirova and Kudakwashe Nyagano told people at Corner Store Business centre in ward 26 that after registering to vote, each person should submit the serial number of the registration slip to their village heads and ZANU officials. They said this on the 9th of October 2017. Chirova and Nyagano threatened those who defy with violence and evictions.
Mutoko East ward 17
On 10 October 2017, ZANU PF Youth chairperson Kuda Kagoro directed all traditional leaders to force-march people to BVR registration centres. He instructed them that each traditional leader should go with people within his jurisdiction to the registration centre and make sure everyone registers to vote. Kagoro also told the Traditional leaders to compile names of people who refuse to cooperate.
Mutoko South ward 28
Councillor Tapiwa Chiziwe addressed a meeting at Hoyuyu Business centre on the 10th of October 2017. He told people that they were supposed to submit serial numbers of their registration slips to their village heads.
Mudzi South ward 13
On 10 October 2017, ZANU PF District Chairperson Smart Chizhowa ordered village heads to force-march people to BVR registration centres. Chizhowa also informed the Village heads to compile names of people as they register to vote.
Mudzi North ward 3
On 10 October 2017, David Chimukoko a former Councillor from ZANU PF ordered village heads to force people within their jurisdiction to go and register to vote. Chimukoko also told Village heads that they should compile names of people after registration.
Mutoko South ward 21
On 09 October 2017, a ZANU PF member only identified as Mai Rimakamwe took down voter registration slip serial numbers from people who had finished registering to vote at Gumbure Primary School.
Murehwa Ward 16
On 10 October 2017, ZANU PF ward chairperson, Temba Chimombe instructed Village heads not to sign affidavit forms for opposition party members. Chimombe also told the Village heads to compile names of everyone who registers to vote in the area.
Mt Darwin North ward 5
On 09 October 2017, Councillor Rainess Ben announced during a meeting at Tsenga Primary school that all Village heads were supposed to compile names of people who would have registered as voters. On 10 October 2017, Village heads Museredza and Kabayira were seen taking down serial numbers of voter slips from people who had registered.
Mt Darwin North ward 33
On 11 October 2017, Village heads Chiguma and Kambewu force marched people to Bandimba Primary school to register to vote.
Mt Darwin North ward 33
On 11 October 2017, Village heads Chiguma and Kambewu force-marched people to Bandimba Primary School to register to vote. The Village heads also told people to submit serial numbers of their registration slips to them after the registration process.
Bikita East Ward 20
On the 4th of October 2017, Councillor Martin Chiwacha addressed a meeting at Chiroorwe ward centre and announced that BVR machines will allow ZANU PF to identify opposition party supporters. He stated that after the 2018 elections, they will use information from the BVR equipments to identify all opposition party supporters. He further indicated that all those who will be identified shall be thoroughly beaten soon after the election results are announced hence people should vote “wisely”.
Chegutu East ward 17
On 8 October 2017, Councillor Michael Marecha convened a meeting at Musengezi farmers’ hall at Dombwe Township. At the meeting, he announced that the BVR is going to help ZANU PF identify opposition party members. He further stated that all those who will be detected to shall be beaten up soon after the 2018 election results are announced.
Kariba ward 3
On 10 0ctober 2017, ZANU PF District Chairperson, Clever Chitofu and ZANU PF member Wayne Muparaganda, took down serial numbers of voter registration slips from people who had registered to vote at Nyanheve Primary School and Ambassador Church polling station.
It is Heal Zimbabwe’s assertion that the new BVR system was supposed to be accompanied by a robust voter education exercise to dispel falsehoods and myths being peddled especially in rural areas. These lies and threats have a great potential of disenfranchising many people from exercising their democratic right of voting. Heal Zimbabwe has sent all these cases to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission for redress. The organisation will continue to monitor human rights violations around the registration process especially in political hotspots areas.