Opposition demands free IDs for poor Zimbabweans ahead of 2018 polls

MDC Spokesman Obert Gutu
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Harare – Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has urged the Registrar General’s office to consider issuing free identity documents (IDs) to poor Zimbabweans ahead of the 2018 general elections, says a report.

The Morgan Tsvangirai led party said that it was only fair that poor Zimbabweans be issued with the new identity cards for free, as many of them were not able to pay the $10 required to acquire them.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said that his party was not going to accept anything less than free IDs for the poor.

“No eligible Zimbabwean citizen should be denied a national ID simply because he/she is too poor to pay for the acquisition of such an important document. Similarly, no eligible Zimbabwean citizen should be denied his/her constitutional right to register as a voter simply because they couldn’t acquire the relevant national ID,” Gutu was quoted as saying.

Native applicants were required to pay $10 while aliens are expected to fork out $50 to obtain the IDs.

Fresh voter registration

Gutu’s sentiments came less than two weeks after the MDC 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.

The new national Identity Documents registration was expected to run from September 4 to November 30.

But, according to the report, Mudede’s announcement contradicted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s proclamation early this year.

The electoral body announced that it was going to roll out a fresh voter registration exercise, removing Mudede from administering the election process.

In light of the 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 at the time.