By Peter Svovera
IN a rare development, the Zimbabwe Elections Commission (ZEC) has established just two accreditation centres to cater for the forthcoming By-Elections slated to take place next month triggering an outcry from key stakeholders.
In a statement, ZEC Chief Elections Officer, Utoile Silaigwana announced that only two centers will oversee the voter registration exercise despite concerns earlier this year that a few citizens are registered to vote.
“It is hereby notified that the ZEC is establishing accreditation venues for the March 26 2022 by elections and the mobile voter registration for delimitation.
“The accreditation of successful applicants shall be conducted between 8am and 4pm at Belvedere Teachers College, Harare and St Patrick’s Hotel in Bulawayo,” he said in a statement.
Apart from these conditions, the elections organ has also set local observer fees at US$10, continental observer fees US$20,Observers from foreign embassies in Zimbabwe US$50, Observers from beyond Africa US$100.
Zimbabwean media practitioners accredited with the Zimbabwe Media Commission and working in Zimbabwe for foreign media houses US$50 and local media practitioners US$10.
The developments were immediately criticized by the Elections Resource Centre which demanded the immediate decentralization of the accreditation centres to make observation accessible to all.
“ZEC must immediately decentralise the accreditation centres to make observation accessible to all! #ByElectionsZW,” the elections body said.
Media practitioners have also questioned the rationale behind setting an accreditation fee in foreign currency at a time the nation has adopted the Zim$.
“We belong to the Constitution’s Chapter 12 commissions whose role is to serve as the watchdog for such democratic practices. The fees will stifle our oversight role and we will be submitting our complaints through the Media Institute of Southern Africa,” one journalist said.