Zimbabwe’s political parties want to give voters another two months to sign up for the 2018 election after political turmoil disrupted the registration process, an opposition official said.
The ruling party and opposition groups will ask electoral authorities on Wednesday to extend next week’s voter registration deadline into February, said Douglas Mwonzora, Secretary-General of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The army forced former president Robert Mugabe out of office in November, ousting the only leader the country has known since independence.
“The military coup disturbed a lot of things. During that period, many potential voters did not go out to register because there was serious political uncertainty in the country,” said Mwonzora, who also co-chairs an inter-party group monitoring voter registration.
“So after taking all this into account we realised that we need to extend the registration exercise. If we don’t we will see voter apathy next year,” he added.
Zimbabwe started registering voters in September.
Its Electoral Commision said on Tuesday just over four million voters out of a target of seven million had signed up, eight days before the deadline to end the process.
Part of the problem, said Mwonzora, was that thousands of potential voters, who are classified as aliens because their parents are from other countries in southern Africa, have only been able to register since Friday, after a court ruling.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mugabe, will be running to keep the job in the presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place by July 2018.