Zimbabwe’s electoral body ready for 2018 polls

Rita Makarau

Rita Makarau

Zimbabwe’s electoral body said Tuesday it is well prepared to hold elections set for mid 2018 and voter education is due to start soon.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Rita Makarau told a parliamentary committee that it will soon start countrywide voter education which will pave way for biometric voter registration exercise to be completed by December.

“We must complete voter registration by December 2017 for us to be able to hold elections on any date in 2018.

It is the prerogative of the president to call for an election date but we stand ready to hold the elections,” Makarau said.

She appealed to political parties that will contest in next year’s polls as well as civil society organizations to start voter education now to give ample time for people to be educated about the requirements for voting.

Makarau said ZEC had submitted an election budget to Treasury which they were hopeful will be fully funded.

“It’s a frightening figure but elections don’t come cheap and we hope the money we have asked for will be released.

Government has not failed us in the past and we don’t believe funding will be a challenge for the 2018 elections,” she said.

The ZEC chairperson said Zimbabweans with national identity documents showing that they are aliens should regularize their citizenship to ensure that they will be able to vote in next year’s elections.

Zimbabweans born in Zimbabwe but with parents of foreign origin, regarded as aliens, have previously been denied the right to vote, a development that has largely been criticized by the opposition for disenfranchising many prospective voters.

Makarau said the electoral body was targeting to register 7 million voters for next year’s polls, up from 6.8 million registered in the previous 2013 elections.

Meanwhile, Makarau appealed to political parties to shun violence and ensure a peaceful election.

Parties should also ensure the political environment is friendly to women and children, she said.

“As ZEC it will really be a sad day for us if at all there is going to be political violence in the run up, during and after elections. We call upon political parties to shun violence as a tool of campaigning and winning the hearts of prospective voters,” she said.

Makarau said ZEC would set up mechanisms to prevent and deal with politically motivated violence during the election period.

ZEC was also working with several women rights organizations to ensure more women contested in next year’s polls, Makarau said.

She also urged parliamentarians to lobby for legislation guaranteeing equal representation of women in the National Assembly, made up of 210 members. -Xinhua

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