Mudede loses voters roll

The draft constitution has drastically reduced the roles played by the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office in any future elections, giving the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) the responsibility to register voters, keep the voters’ roll and to supervise elections.

According to Section 12.8 of the draft, Zec will take charge of preparing, conducting and supervising presidential and parliamentary elections, provincial or local government elections, elections to select the President of Senate and Council of Chiefs and all referendums.

Zec will be required “to register voters, or to supervise the registration of voters by the authority charged with that responsibility, as may be provided under the Electoral Law”, reads Section 12.8(b) of the draft. The draft further gives Zec the responsibility “to compile voters’ rolls and registers, or to supervise the compilation of those rolls and registers by the authority charged with that responsibility, as may be provided under the Electoral Law, and to ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters’ rolls and registers”.

This clause implies the RG, Tobaiwa Mudede, who used to be in control of the voters’ roll for years, ceases to be in charge or can only carry out these duties under the supervision of the electoral commission.

Mudede has been accused by MDC parties in the inclusive government of siding with Zanu PF in past elections and manipulating the voters’ roll to suit Zanu PF.

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An election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, has repeatedly said the voters’ roll was flawed, with thousands of deceased people appearing on the roll while many people whose dates of birth indicated they were way above the age of 100 had curiously remained registered.

Mudede’s rolls have also been a subject of conflict in the drafting of the Electoral Amendment Bill which is currently in Parliament waiting approval. The MDCs have been calling for Zec to take full charge of elections while Zanu PF wanted the RG to remain the custodian of the voters’ roll.

Zec, according to the draft, should also be responsible for conducting voter education, accreditation of election and referendum observers and designing, printing and distributing ballot papers as well as approve the form of and procure ballot boxes. Zec will also establish and operate polling centres.

Public officers, other than judges, will not be required to work under Zec just as employees of provincial, metropolitan councils, local authorities, members and employees of statutory bodies and government-controlled entities would also not be acceptable as employees of the commission.

Zanu PF and the two MDC parties have squabbled endlessly over the composition of Zec staff. – NewsDay