By- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has refused to release a consolidated voters roll ahead of the delimitation exercise, a social justice movement, Team Pachedu has claimed.
In line with section 21 of the Electoral Act, a copy of the voters roll should be made available to those who request it upon payment of the prescribed fee.
“With delimitation set to start soon, Zec is still unwilling to avail the national consolidated voters roll to anyone who wants it,” Team Pachedu claimed yesterday.
“The Electoral Act is clear on availing the roll to any individual who pays the prescribed fee. It is not all about inspection. Zec must answer.”
The delimitation exercise, which involves creating new electoral boundaries, is expected to start in October and end in December 2022.
The last exercise was based on the Registrar-General’s voters roll.
The upcoming exercise will be conducted using census data.
Team Pachedu added: “The failure to release the full voters roll on a timely basis is a clear violation of the law. We should never get excited about going into an election without certain benchmarks being met.”
NewsDay failed to get a comment from Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana and chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana.
Both kept promising to respond to NewsDay questions, but failed to do so by the time of going to print last night.
Opposition and independent election watchdogs said Zec’s refusal to release the consolidated voters roll further dented the credibility of the document after a number of discrepancies were unearthed by data experts in the past few months.
“The failure to publicly avail the voters roll timeously will further diminish public confidence in electoral processes. This will inevitably frustrate the citizens prospects of validating the credibility and accuracy of the delimitation outcome,” Citizens Coalition for Change interim deputy elections secretary Ellen Shiriyedenga said.
Election Resource Centre programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu said: “It’s not only legal, but morally right. The voters roll is part of the key electoral material that must be availed transparently. That helps with accountability.”
Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairperson Andrew Makoni said: “It’s critical. If there are any anomalies, they can be attended to. So when a party or an individual requests a voters roll they are in terms of the law entitled to have it.
“The public portal can be secured by Zec itself to ensure that no one can tamper with it. It allows people to view the data they want.”
Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust executive director Igneous Sadziwa said Zec should be taken to task for refusing to release the voters roll.
“This is a serious breach of the Constitution and, therefore, stern action must be meted against the commission for failing to fulfil its constitutional obligations. Going into an election without important documentation like the voters roll is catastrophic for political parties and the electorate,” Sadziwa said.
“It’s a public document. If the tiff persists, we have no option but to disband the commission for gross misconduct.”
Meanwhile, election watchdogs which observed Kenyan polls have challenged Zec to draw lessons on the diaspora vote, use of technology, voters roll auditing and assisted voter system.
“Zimbabwe needs to implement legislation that allows for Zimbabweans above 18 to vote in their resident countries. Botswana, South Africa and Kenya demonstrated possibilities,” Bobosibunu said.
Makoni lauded Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for embracing technology and engaging an independent auditor KPMG to audit the voters roll to promote transparency.
“We saw technology at play. Voting was largely through the Kenya Integrated Election Management System consisting of biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification system and the electronic transmission of results,” he said.
Mangwana earlier this week said it was the duty of Parliament to make laws on electoral reforms such as the need for the diaspora vote.
“Parliamentarians must be able to make these laws (in time) so that when we run elections we are able to check if some provisions can work or not. In Zimbabwe we don’t have that (voters’ roll auditing). Our voter inspection exercise is far more transparent than the third party audit,” he said.NewsDay.