INDEPENDENT electoral watchdogs yesterday cast aspersions over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) capacity to hold credible elections, after massive irregularities, including multiple registrations, were reportedly unearthed in the voters’ roll used in the just-ended Chiwundura parliamentary by-election.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Two watchdogs — Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) — have since raised the red flag with Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau, demanding an audit of the constituency’s voters’ roll, saying the anomalies were likely to negatively affect the credibility of next year’s election results.
They cited a case where 724 voters’ records bore similar first names, surnames, gender, date of birth, but had different ID numbers and in most cases at different polling stations.
“(The) audit revealed (that) 863 (people) are registered more than once and appear in different polling stations, there are 132 voters with ID (identity) numbers that are invalid and 218 voters with ID numbers that have a suffix that does not conform to the National Registration Act,” ERC said in a statement yesterday.
With reports of vote-rigging having dogged elections in Zimbabwe for years, ERC noted that some polling stations in Chiwundura were located at homesteads, while “724 records, with exactly
the same first name, surname, gender, date of birth but different ID number and in most cases at different polling stations”, were unearthed.
The Zec chairperson confirmed receiving the report.
“We received the report on Friday and welcome this sort of engagement,” Makarau said.
“We are going, however, to engage the ERC and check whether they were using the voters’ roll we gave to the political parties after cleaning up our draft.”
Makarau was confident that the biometric voter registration exercise will pick up anomalies such as multiple registrations.
“But we want to assure the public that the biometric voters’ roll will deal with issues of multiple registrations because we will use the fingerprint that will detect such anomalies,” she said.
“It is also important that we highlight the fact that in that part of the country (Midlands) there can be more than two Rosemary Moyos living in different parts of Gweru and I have been assured that this is the case.”
Zesn called on Zec to make a public statement on the issue.
“Zesn calls upon Zec to publicly issue a statement on the reported anomalies with regards to duplicates, and invalid IDs to instil public confidence in the electoral processes, particularly the voter registration,” the body said, adding the 2013 voters’ roll should be dumped.
“According to Zec, there are some records of people with exactly the same first name, surname, gender and date of birth but with different identification numbers.
“Some voters are reported to have identification numbers that are invalid.
“This reinforces Zesn’s calls for Zec to discard the 2013 voters’ roll, which continues to affect the credibility, confidence and trust of the Zec and elections.”
Zesn chairperson, Andrew Makoni called for clarity on the anomalies.
“If these issues are not clarified and rectified, they can be detrimental to the credibility of future elections in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Opposition parties are currently lobbying Zec to implement electoral reforms, among them adopting a biometric voters’ roll to level the political playing field ahead of next year’s elections.
The Chiwundura by-election, which was also marred by voter apathy, was won by Zanu PF’s Brown Ndlovu.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF’s Kizito Chivamba in April this year.