KIGALI - Following last Saturday’s wrapping up of the voters’ registration exercise countrywide, Rwandans who missed out have charged at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for not properly communicating the event.
They have since appealed to the NEC to extend the exercise dates in order for all eligible voters to register to be able to participate in the Presidential polls slated for August next year.
In a random survey conducted by The New Times in Kigali City, only eight out of 50 people interviewed have registered to vote.
Most of those who missed out on the exercise are workers who are rarely home during day time.
With many of them not aware of the exercise which started about a month ago.
A 33-year old Elias Bakunda, a taxi driver who plies the City Centre-Kimironko route said it was his first time to hear that there was a voter’s registration exercise going on in the country.
“I am surprised to here about it. I had never heard about it either on Radio or from any another person before,” said Bakunda, a resident of Remera.
This, he said is an important exercise which needs to be given much emphasis and ought to have been well communicated for all Rwandans to know of it.
“I don’t think this exercise was well communicated and I believe the majority missed it because they did not know about it…I cannot imagine missing out on elections next year if truly the registration exercise has ended,” he said.
To Eliane Kabasinga who runs a beauty saloon in the city centre, the exercise should be extended and new measures to publicize be put in place.
“Yes, I want also to vote for the President of my choice but I don’t think I will since I did not register,” the 37-year old mother of four said.
Of the 11 people who were in Kabasinga’s saloon, only two were registered. “We did not know about it,” they said.
Charles Gakwaya a resident of Nyamirambo said he got to know about the exercise on the last day during Umuganda.
“I registered on the last day but I did not know that the exercise was going on before,” Gakwaya said.
“Now that the NEC has known that the registration did not go on smoothly, they should be thinking of how better it can be done for every one to get registered.”
“It will be a pity when the time of voting comes and only few take part,” a government official who preferred to remain anonymous said.
When contacted, Charles Munyaneza, the NEC Executive Secretary said that this was the first phase and there would be three more phases before the election.
He said that the exercise had registered 90 percent in villages but added the response in towns most especially in Kigali city was low.
“People most especially in Kigali city are always busy with their businesses and hardly find time to go for the registration.
We even used volunteers to go in their homes but again the results remained low,” Munyaneza said.
He dismissed claims that the exercise was not well communicated saying that business people are only focused on their businesses.
“We used all sorts of media outlets including print and electronic to communicate to the people and this should not be an excuse. It’s only that they are concentrated on their businesses”
He made assurances that whoever missed it should know that this is not the end.