The Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) has accused Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede of sabotaging potential voters by denying them the opportunity to get identity documents that would enable them to register as voters.
In a statement issued Friday, the ERC said it had, through its accredited observers, unearthed a voter suppression drive by the Registrar General.
It said Mudede was targeting to disenfranchise urban, Matabeleland-based and so-called alien voters, adding many in those groups were either denied, delayed or turned away from accessing the registration documents.
Mudede, who was in charge of running all elections in Zimbabwe from 1980 until recently when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was established, has been accused of manipulating poll results to favour deposed former President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
Last year, the controversial Registrar General irked opposition political parties and the general public when he announced that people with metal identity (ID) cards would not be allowed to register to vote.
It took the intervention of the ZEC which clarified that metal IDs had not been scrapped and were valid documents for voter registration and voting.
Zimbabwe introduced plastic ID cards in November 2004.
“At the onset of the BVR exercise, the Registrar General committed to the free and mass registration for citizens to acquire identity documents in tandem with the BVR process. However, many citizens have failed to acquire ID documents because of poor service delivery by the Registrar General’s office,” the ERC said.
The electoral body said this was despite the fact that many citizens had embraced the exercise and had to finance their travel to long distances to get the service.
It said more than 200 Hopley residents in Harare South who had been mobilised by one Zvikomborero Usayi, a citizen journalist and provided with a shuttle service by the ERC, failed to get birth certificates and national IDs as a result of the laissez faire approach by the Registrar’s office.
The ERC said it had since sought audience with Mudede to ensure the BVR process conformed to voter registration principles and international best practice, especially on inclusivity.
“ERC has sought audience with Mudede to compel him to immediately address this challenge as it is hindering citizen participation in the BVR exercise and by extension, the upcoming harmonized elections,” the group added.