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Knives out for Zec over voters roll

by Staff reporter
10 May 2023 at 06:02hrs | Views
INDEPENDENT election watchdogs say they are worried that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) could manipulate the number of registered voters citing secrecy surrounding its management of the electoral process.

They say the failure by the commission to release a voters roll three months before a general election is worrisome.

Data analysts Team Pachedu yesterday said the commission had also turned off on its portal the function that enables voters to check their names on the voters roll.

NewsDay was unable to verify this claim.

The commission has previously indicated that it will release the final figures of the roll after completing running entries through the automated fingerprint identification to weed out duplicates, but analysts yesterday said that its handling of the electoral data was questionable.

"The commission through its chairperson (Justice Priscilla Chigumba) only issued a general statistic of 400 000 people having registered to vote in the last blitz. This takes the total to over six million, but there is no way of knowing which constituency has more or less numbers, a situation that leaves room for the numbers to be doctored," data analysts Team Pachedu told NewsDay.

The commission last conducted a voter registration blitz in March this year, although political parties, notably the ruling Zanu-PF, has been bussing supporters for registration.

Zec's failure to release a voters roll three months before a general election was worrisome, it added.

"We are also worried about the secretive nature in which Zec is handling the voters roll and related public documents. Since 2018, the commission has failed to avail the voters roll on time, even on delimitation, there was nothing," Team Pachedu said.

The organisation said there was need for the electoral body to avail the voters roll for analysis to ensure transparency and to guarantee the credibility of the polls.

"We are less than three months to an election and no one but Zec itself has seen the voters roll. The commission even switched off their online portal in order for individuals to check their names."

Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said transparency was key in ensuring free and fair elections.

"It is concerning that three months before an election, the commission continues to conduct itself under a veil of secrecy. The conduct of the commission will have a bearing on the credibility assessment of the 2023 elections," Tsunga said.

Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust executive director Ignatious Sadziwa said the delay in releasing the voters roll had serious implications on the integrity and credibility of the polls.

"Zec's delay to release such vital information at this juncture has serious implications. Such misdemeanours have a propensity of causing unnecessary panic and despondency to both political parties and the electorate. It is some of these vices that dent the commission's ability for this very important task," Sadziwa said.

Zec officials yesterday refused to comment on the issue saying the electoral management body would release a detailed statement.

Chigumba told Parliament last month that releasing the voters roll in electronic format may violate cyber laws.

"The Data Protection Act has placed additional responsibilities on the commission in terms of the format in which this data is disseminated to the public, to protect the data of voters," Chigumba claimed.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said he will proclaim the election date before the end of this month.

An Afrobarometer survey released in April said there was low trust in Zec conducting credible elections.

According to the survey, 47% of Zimbabweans believe that the Zec would conduct credible elections.

Source - Newsday
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