By Dorrothy Moyo | In a move that has sparked widespread discussion and scrutiny, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced its plans to purge the voters’ roll of 4,562 deceased individuals, a significant action taken seven months post the 2023 elections—an electoral process that faced condemnation from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) electoral observers for irregularities. This delayed initiative, disclosed in an extraordinary Government Gazette General Notice 193 of 2024 on February 9, has raised questions about the timing and efficiency of the electoral body’s maintenance of the voters’ roll.
ZEC’s Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Utloile Silaigwana, detailed the commission’s intention to remove the names of deceased persons from the roll, citing the legal basis for this action under the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13]. This process, which Silaigwana emphasizes as routine and ongoing, relies on death reports provided by the Civil Registry Department. Despite these assurances, the timing of the announcement, coming several months after the contentious elections, has led to skepticism about the electoral commission’s diligence and the potential implications for the integrity of the electoral process.
The notice issued by ZEC also includes provisions for those mistakenly listed as deceased to appeal against their inclusion in the removal schedule. This safeguard, while necessary, underscores the complexities and challenges involved in maintaining an accurate and up-to-date voters’ roll in Zimbabwe.
The electoral body’s practice of periodically removing deceased voters from the roll aims to prevent voter fraud, ensuring that no one can cast a vote using the identity of a deceased individual. However, the late announcement of this significant cleanup operation, following an election criticized for its fairness and transparency, has intensified the scrutiny on ZEC’s operational procedures and raised concerns about the overall electoral framework in Zimbabwe.
As the ZEC moves forward with this cleanup, the focus remains on the commission’s ability to implement efficient and timely updates to the voters’ roll, reinforcing the integrity of the electoral process in Zimbabwe. The aftermath of the 2023 elections and the actions taken by electoral authorities continue to be a point of contention and debate among political analysts, electoral observers, and the general populace, highlighting the critical need for transparency and accountability in electoral administration.