GECOM has been extremely reckless. In its haste to launch house-to-house registration, it has prematurely caused thousands of enumerators to fan out across the country without any sustained public relations campaign. This is not how you launch a house-to-house registration.
Households have to open their gates and doors to these total strangers? The enumerators, we are told, will be coming in groups of two or three. Sufficient notice and information should have been provided to the public so that they could prepare for this exercise and know what to expect.
Given the crime situation, there is a need for GECOM to conduct proper due diligence on all of its enumerators and to advise the public that this has been done. The public needs to be assured that the necessary integrity checks have been conducted on these persons so that they can feel safe when they open their doors and gates to them.
How are members of the public to know who is authorized by GECOM to conduct registrations in their area? GECOM has posted up the names and photographs of its workers in each year. It is not enough for the workers to wear a T-shirt with the GECOM and house-to- house logos. Anyone can counterfeit these logos.
The public is going to be circumspect about opening their doors and gates to enumerators if they are not provided, in advance, with the images and identities of these persons. The names and photographs of those assigned to each community should have been publicly advertised. The public has to be aware of the sort of identification which they should demand for allowing these ‘strangers’ into their yards and into their homes.
The times when these persons will be conducting registrations should be revised. The cut-off time should be 5: 30 PM. It gets dark by 6:00 pm and enumerators should not be visiting in the dark.
The public also needs to be told what questions they have to answer and which questions they can refuse to answer. They need to be told about the procedure for registration: are they required to sign verifying the information which is recorded.
What supporting documents should be provided to the enumerators? The last time a registration exercise was conducted, persons were asked to produce an original birth certificate. And if you were a married female, you had to present a marriage certificate before you could be registered, even if you were registered previously.
Are these requirements still in place? And what happens if someone cannot find his or her birth certificate or marriage certificate? Would that person be registered?
There is no system in place for persons to obtain a birth certificate within a few days. It takes time and therefore the public ought to have been forewarned continuously of the necessity of having these documents.
What if you are working in the goldfields at the time when the numerators visit? What if you are vacationing overseas – school is out at the moment and many parents are spending the summer holidays overseas with their children. What happens then when the enumerators visit?
The List of Electors is going to be compiled from the house-to-house registration exercise. And unless this process is monitored by the various political parties, skullduggery can and will take place. It is precisely because of this risk that scrutineers, drawn from the political parties usually accompany the enumerators to ensure that no unauthorized or under-aged persons are registered.
There is likely to be a major controversy if the opposition and government party representatives are not involved in the house-to house registration. These persons are involved during the normal cycles of registration.
The public needs to be advised also that party representatives will be accompanying the enumerators as a check against malpractice. But if one of the main parties is not involved, then this opens the doors to all manner of wrongdoing.
GECOM should pause the exercise until such time as an effective public relations exercise is launched. The public cannot be expected to open their doors and gates to any person claiming to be an enumerator, even if they present a GECOM identification card.
House-to-house registration involved enumerators going door-to-door. The public needs to know which enumerators are assigned to their area. They need to know what information is mandatory and the procedure to be employed during the registration exercise.
GECOM has not done enough work in educating the public about house-to-house registration. It would therefore not be surprising to learn about cases in which enumerators are turned away by households who may be unsure of whether to open their gates and doors to them.
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