In a concerning development for electoral transparency, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has declined to release the voters roll for the upcoming December 9 by-elections, as reported by a local daily.
Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for the Mabvuku-Tafara Constituency, Febion Kufahakutizwi, has taken legal action against ZEC, seeking a court order compelling the electoral body to release the voters roll ahead of the by-elections.
Under the Electoral Act, ZEC is obligated to provide candidates with copies of the roll soon after the confirmation of their candidature. Kufahakutizwi, represented by Obey Shava of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, has expressed frustration in his founding affidavit, stating that despite multiple requests to ZEC, the voters roll has not been made available.
Kufahakutizwi emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “The by-election is set to be held on December 9, 2023, which is less than two weeks away from the date of this application. If the respondents are not compelled by this court to avail the voters roll to me as a candidate, the election will come and go without me being afforded the right to the voters roll as protected by the Electoral Act.”
He further demands that ZEC releases the document within 48 hours of the court order.
This is not the first instance of such a dispute. Last year, during the March by-elections, opposition candidates were unable to access the voters roll, while their Zanu PF counterparts had access to the document.
In the lead-up to the August 23 elections, CCC candidates also took ZEC to court, demanding the release of the voters roll. The lack of timely access to the voters roll has been a consistent point of contention, with opposition parties, electoral watchdogs, and various stakeholders expressing concern over the repeated failure of ZEC to provide the necessary information.
As the legal battle unfolds, questions about the transparency and fairness of the electoral process linger, raising broader concerns about the adherence to electoral laws and the protection of candidates’ rights.