Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai has called on the country's electoral commission to ensure that all eligible Zimbabweans are able to register to vote.
In statement, MDC's spokesperson Obert Gutu also called on the country's registrar general Tobaiwa Mudede to ensure that the three months national mobile registration exercise for national identity cards, birth and death certificates in preparation for voter registration was carried out fairly across the country.
According to New Zimbabwe.com Mudede on Tuesday announced that residents with "old identity cards" would not be eligible to vote in 2018 as the IDs "are not machine readable". Mudede said that they needed to be replaced with the machine readable cards.
Mudede said the mobile registration exercise was to be carried out between September 4 to November 30.
"The exercise entails the issuing out of birth and death certificates as well as national Identity cards and this is in preparation for the 2018 harmonised elections," he was quoted as saying.
Long delays in queues
Mudede's announcement contradicted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)'s proclamation early this year.
The electoral body had announced that it was going to roll out a fresh voter registration exercise, removing Mudede from administering the election process.
In light of the recent announcement, Gutu said it was important that the exercise reached even the most rural places in the country to ensure that all Zimbabweans eligible to register to vote were able to do so.
"On numerous occasions, Zimbabweans, particularly those who live in urban areas, have complained about the long delays in queues for voter registration, which state of affairs has unfortunately contributed to voter apathy in these areas. The planned national mobile registration exercise should, thus, be designed in such a manner that no eligible person would fail to obtain the new machine – readable national ID," said Gutu.
Gutu said that his party remained cautious about Mudede as he was "untrustworthy" due to allegations that he "often aided the ruling party in rigging elections".
"The MDC shall remain vigilant to ensure that Mudede and people of his ilk are not allowed to hoodwink the toiling masses of Zimbabwe by designing and facilitating an election rigging exercise under the guise of a national mobile registration programme. The Zanu-PF regime, together with Tobaiwa Mudede, cannot be easily trusted. They have a chequered record that makes the majority of the people extremely suspicious about the exact intentions of the planned national mobile registration exercise," said Gutu.
The southern African country was expected to hold crunch polls next year, amid calls by opposition parties for electoral reforms.
The opposition parties, through their New Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), have said that their patience was "running out" and that they would use various channels to ensure that the reforms were implemented before the elections, said reports.