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Fresh voters roll on cards

by Richard Chidza
18 Mar 2014 at 09:30hrs | Views
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the country's electoral management body, has plans to compile a fresh voters' register, before the next poll.

Justice Rita Makarau, the chairperson of ZEC said that her commission had no locus standi to force the Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede, to surrender information on voters his office currently holds.

Mudede was in-charge of voter registration and is the custodian of the voters' roll used in the last elections.

"He (Mudede) was right because legally, we cannot force him to give us anything, except the function that was given to us by the Constitution. It is now up to us to see what we can do to operationalise the function," Makarau said.

Mudede last week told the parliamentary portfolio committee on defence and home affairs that he had nothing to transfer to ZEC.

"We have been in discussions with ZEC over the issue, but I would want to say here that in terms of the new Constitution, the RG is no longer the authority in terms of voter registration. I was the authority up to the general elections last year, but after that, the electoral commission is now the authority," Mudede said. "There is nothing to handover, other than the function of registering voters."

He was responding to a question from Dzivarasekwa legislator Solomon Madzore who wanted to know what his office was doing to make sure citizens automatically become registered voters as soon as they turn 18. Over the years, and in particular since the emergence of credible opposition to Zanu PF at the turn of the century, Mudede has been under fire for "partisan handling of the voters roll".

Makarau said ZEC would seek input from stakeholders at a conference slated for April on the commission's new role.

"We are currently brainstorming on how best to handle the function (voters' registration) and we will also seek input from stake-holders at a conference we will hold in April. We will have to work on modalities, budgets and the setting up of the new infrastructure to start afresh, then we will present to Zimbabweans for approval," the ZEC chairperson said.

Opposition parties, in particular the MDC formations that formed a loose governing coalition with Zanu PF before the elections last year, tried hard to push for a new voter register to no avail.

The MDC-T led by ex-Premier Morgan Tsvangirai has been at the forefront of the clamour for a new voters roll, but capitulated in the run-up to the polls last year and agreed to the elections being run under what it characterised as a "defective voter register".

The opposition parties and democratic activist across the country accused Mudede of tempering with the current roll, which is said to contain names of dead people, an overly inflated figure of centenarians as well as infants registered as voters.

In his defence Mudede has claimed there is "no clean voters roll under the sun".

With a population of around 13 million people, Zimbabwe has seven million eligible voters as at last year's figures. In releasing the final results of the elections last year, ZEC said nearly 305 000 voters were turned away during the hotly contested polls, which the opposition has said were rigged and tried unsuccessfully to challenge at the courts.

The electoral management body also revealed that around 207 000 voters were "assisted" to cast their ballot – creating another source of contention by the opposition, in particular Tsvangirai and his MDC-T.

Mudede also failed to provide an electronic version of the voters register and instead allegedly gave the MDC-T the hard copy which the opposition political party claimed required a seven tonne truck to transport.

Source - zimmail