PROSPECTIVE voters can write their own affidavits for use as proof of residence when registering for the 2018 elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has revealed.
ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau, giving oral evidence before the Women Affairs Committee of Parliament last week, said Zimbabweans were free to pen their own statements for approval by relevant authorities.
“This is the contentious issue. You will need proof of identity or citizenship; you will also need proof of where you reside,” Makarau said.
“We have been asked – but many women do not have this. The lease agreement, title deeds, rent card is in the husband’s name, so how do I prove my residence as a woman?
“Well, you can if you want to, by getting a letter from your husband confirming that you reside with him at that address.
“If he is not talking to you that morning or you aren’t in good books, you can still register by deposing an affidavit yourself. Simply saying ‘I Rita Makarau I reside in Vainona so help me God’. That will be good enough.”
The clarification was aimed at allaying fears and quell protests by opposition parties and civil society organisations which condemned the proof of residence requirement for voter registration.
With the majority of urban voters being lodgers, the parties felt the requirement would disenfranchise millions of Zimbabweans from enjoying the right to choose their leaders.
An affidavit is a written statement of facts, sworn to and signed by a deponent before a notary public or some other authority having the power to witness an oath. The document costs about $0, 50 and certifying one $0, 20.
ZEC targets to register at least 7 million voters. Zimbabwe has a population of 13 million and 52 percent are women.
Responding to requests for affirmation instead of affidavits, Makarau said the two are complimentary and serve different religious groups.
She claimed that the registration system is designed to ensure all citizens who want can register to vote.
“There have been reports in the press saying why don’t you simply ask people to affirm. Yes, people can affirm. Affirmation is for those who don’t believe in God who cannot swear,” she said.
“So, you either affirm where you reside or give us an affidavit of where you reside. This can also help women who don’t have homes to call their own, the homeless. ‘I’m between lodgings, I don’t know where I will be’.
“Give us an affidavit with an address where you will be able to vote from. It will be our catch-all document. No one will be refused to register because they don’t have a formal document to prove where they live,” said Makarau.
Apart from proof of residence, aspiring voters are also expected to produce a valid passport or national identity card to prove citizenship. Drivers’ licenses are not accepted because they do not show citizenship.
Makarau also pleaded with political parties and civil society organisations to educate communities on the need for prints on the documents to be legible.