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Cablegate: Voter Registration: A Flawed Process

VZCZCXYZ2929
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSB #0180/01 0661526
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061526Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2550
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1865
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1800
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1925
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0504
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1202
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1559
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1981
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4412
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1052
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS HARARE 000180

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S.HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
TREASURY FOR J.RALYEA AND T.RAND
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN
COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: Voter Registration: A Flawed Process


------------
Introduction
------------
1. Newspapers and NGOs have reported in the last several weeks
serious flaws in the Zimbabwean registration process which ended
February 13. Anecdotal evidence corroborates these reports.
Problems include absence of names of registered voters on voter
rolls, ghost voters appearing on the rolls, and refusal of election
officials to register qualified voters.

2. Although the Zimbabwe Election Commission extended voter
registration from February 7 to February 13 in order to accommodate
the many people who had not managed to register to vote, this
extension did not cure myriad problems existing in the registration
process. Embassy locally employed staff provided some anecdotes
that illustrate the problems.

-------------------------------
Confusion over documentation
and logistics for Registration
-------------------------------

3. POL assistant, with her husband, visited their polling station
in a low density suburb of Harare on February 4 to confirm that
their names were on the ward voters roll. The couple had voted in
previous elections, and therefore their names should have been on
the roll. This was not the case and they had to reregister.
Surprisingly, the names of the brothers of POL assistant's husband,
who left the country in the 1990s, were both on the roll, although
they had never registered to vote before leaving the country. The
couple pointed this fact out to the ZEC officials and was told that
there was nothing that they could do to ensure that their relatives'
names were deleted from the roll.

4. Re-registering was not an easy task for POL assistant and her
husband. They were asked to prove citizenship by producing their
passports; election officials told them that their driver's licenses
which have their national identity numbers were insufficient. One
of the officials admonished them not to complain; she had been
"shouted at" the whole day by white people who claimed their names
had been erroneously omitted from the roll since they had voted in
previous elections. POL assistant and her husband were not given
any receipts for registration and instead were asked to return three
days later to collect the receipts. POL assistant returned to the
polling center on Thursday February 7 to collect them, only to be
told that she and her husband needed to submit further proof of
residence. After providing additional documentation, they received
their receipts eight days after they had initially visited the
center.

---------------------------
Registering Turns into a
Wild Goose Chase for Many
---------------------------

5. Before POL assistant and her husband left the polling station,
another woman entered and complained that she had been sent to three
different centers after being told at each place that she was in the
wrong polling station. She told the officials that she was not
leaving until they had resolved the issue. Ultimately, officials
called one of the previous polling stations and told her to return
there.

---------------------------------
Other Anecdotal Information from
Locally Employed Staff
---------------------------------

6. An Embassy household staff member who was born in Zimbabwe and
had voted in the past was told he could not register to vote because
he was not a citizen. Election officials based this determination
on the fact that his parents were born in Mozambique. He was asked
to fill out an application for citizenship and told to go to the
Registrar General's office to get his citizenship papers. Of the 7
other people in line to register, two others were also denied
registration because of foreign parentage. (Note: Last year, the
Registrar General denied citizenship to Trevor Ncube, publisher of
The Independent, because his parents had been born in Mozambique.
The Zimbabwean High Court subsequently ruled that since Ncube was
born in Zimbabwe, he was entitled to citizenship. End Note.)

-------
Comment
-------

6. Anecdotal evidence confirms the judgment of civil society
organizations and the MDC that the registration process was
seriously flawed. It appears clear that numerous individuals,
qualified to vote, were unable to register, particularly in urban
areas. In the absence of an audit, it is impossible to determine
how many ghost voters are listed on the voter rolls.

McGEE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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