Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zimbabwe voters’ roll is unavailable

By Lance Guma

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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is refusing to make available a copy of the country’s voters’ roll citing a variety of excuses the latest of which is that “there is a technical fault in the equipment used to produce the roll.”

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and her deputy Mrs Leticia Kazembe update the media
Mugabe apologists: ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and her deputy Mrs Leticia Kazembe update the media

Interest in inspecting the voter’s roll is particularly high following accusations that President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party registered their supporters en masse while deliberately frustrating opposition supporters. It was this ‘rigged’ voters’ roll which was used to decide elections this year.

Several individuals and organisations who have sought access to the contentious roll as prescribed by law were initially told that the ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau was on leave. When she came back the same requests were re-submitted but this time the excuse by ZEC had changed.

A response by Makarua seen by Nehanda Radio says:

“We regret to advise that currently the Registra General of Voters is unable to provide electronic copies of the voters roll as a result of a technical fault in the equipment used for production of the same.

“We however, note your comments regarding the right of all Zimbabweans to vote and confirm that this is an issue addressed fully in the current electoral law. We shall work out modalities of giving effect to the right before the next general elections,” Makarau said in her response.

In the run up to elections this year the MDC-T requested an electronic version of the voters roll but was delivered only a printed copy the night before the election.

“It’s pretty obvious that the printed copy originated from the electronic version. The electronic version HAD to be functional to print the hard copy.  So why didn’t they provide the electronic version if they had nothing to hide?” asked a legal expert who spoke to Nehanda Radio.

“The letter from ZEC above says they cannot supply electronic copies of the voters roll because of a technical fault in the equipment. Do they honestly believe that we are so stupid as to believe such hogwash?

“Computers have hard drives and those hard drives can be easily accessed and the relevant files can be recovered. Anyone with half a brain and few years’ experience using a computer would know that ZEC are telling lies.

“But given events leading up to the election, it is no wonder ZEC, under ZANU-PF’s Mudede’s command was so reluctant to provide the electronic version which had direct input from NIKUV (the Israeli company hired by Zanu PF to update the voter’s roll).

“It is no wonder they will not supply electronic versions 2 months after the elections. They have something they need to hide from the people of Zimbabwe.

“What really bothers me is that it appears to me that certain organisations and individuals, who could be in a position to force ZEC compliance and expose the truth, don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

“Is this extremely serious matter being “parked” just like all the other critically important terms of the GPA and roadmaps to the last election? As far as I know, ZEC is already in contempt of court. Here is the relevant legislation- see (3) below:

Inspection of voter’s rolls and provision of copies

(1)  Every voters roll shall be a public document and open to inspection by the public, free of charge, during ordinary office hours at the office of the Commission or the constituency registrar where it is kept.

(2)  A person inspecting the voters roll for a constituency may, without removing the voters roll, make any written notes of anything contained therein during office hours.

(3)  The Commission shall within a reasonable period of time provide any person who requests it, and who pays the prescribed fee, with a copy of any voters roll, either in printed or in electronic form as the person may request.

(4)           Within a reasonable period of time after the calling of an election, the Commission shall provide, on payment of the prescribed fee, to every political party that intends to contest the election, and to any observer who requests it, one copy of every voters roll to be used in the election, either in printed or in electronic form as the party or observer may request.

(5)           Fees prescribed for the purposes of subsection (3) or (4) shall not exceed the reasonable cost of providing the voters roll concerned.

(6)  Within a reasonable period of the time after nomination day in an election, the Commission shall provide –

(a)           free of charge, to every nominated candidate, one copy in electronic form of the constituency voters roll to be used in the election for which the candidate has been nominated; and

(b)           at the request of any nominated candidate, and on payment of the prescribed fee, one copy in printed form of the constituency voters roll to be used in the election for which the candidate has been nominated.

(7)           Where a voters roll is provided in electronic form in terms of subsection (3), (4) or (6), its format shall be such as allows its contents to be searched and analysed:

Provided that—

(i)            the roll may be formatted so as to prevent its being altered or otherwise tampered with;

(ii)           the Commission may impose reasonable conditions on the provision of the roll to prevent it from being used for commercial or other purposes unconnected with an election.

(8)           For the purposes of any election the Chief Elections Officer shall, through the appropriate constituency elections officer, supply sufficient copies of the ward voters roll to every polling station.

(9)           Any person who, having been provided with a voters roll in terms of this section—

(a)           alters the voters roll, that is to say, excises any name from, adds any name to or otherwise alters the voters roll with intent to misrepresent to any person that the altered voters roll is the authentic voters roll for any election;  or

(b)           makes use of the voters roll for commercial or other purposes unconnected with an election;

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

*Section as amended by s. 6 of Act 3/2012.

To contact this journalist email lance@nehandaradio.com

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