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Urban voter registration slow, painful

It was exactly 11:30am when I arrived at CJ Hall in Highfield.


There were a lot of young people who wanted to register.

The last time that I saw many people at this hall was in the mid-90s when we used to watch films on the projector.

Thirty minutes after my arrival a police officer came out of the hall and called names of people he had jotted down earlier.

He took five people into the hall where registration was taking place.

I waited at the registration centre until lunch time but the queue was not moving.

At most, 10 people were called inside the registration centre after every 30 to 40 minutes. But it took much more time for each of them to be served.

It was getting even worse as time ticked. Tired of waiting in the queue, I, together with my other colleagues, decided to buy time.

We went to a bottle store at Machipisa Shopping Centre and returned at around three o’clock the queue had just moved a bit.

Some girls who had also been in the queue had disappeared.

They got fed up and left.

“I am now going back home. There is no hope that I will register,” a young man told his friend.

The other friend shot back: “You are crazy, we have been here since morning and even if we go back home, we are going to do nothing because Zesa [the power utility company] is going to cut power soon. Let’s wait and we will register.”

What surprised me was the willingness and extraordinary resilience to want to register by the youth. Despite the snail’s pace the queue was moving at, most of them waited their turn.

Several people who did not have the required documentation failed to register.

At 5:15pm my name was called and I went inside and sat down on an old bench awaiting my turn. A lady took my national identification card and verified it.
I then submitted my papers to another lady who then wrote on top of my proof of residence copy the name of my ward. On the bench where she was sitting, were five people — four of them registering, but doing it slowly.

I put my signature marking the completion of the registration process at around 6:20pm. I had spent more than an hour registering, after entering the offices.

All in all it took me almost seven hours to register as a voter. The process was just slow and painful.

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