Makarau promises voters’ roll consultations

HARARE – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Rita Makarau has pledged to involve the electorate in the making of a new voters’ roll. The roll is expected to be completed ahead of the next elections in 2018.

\n

Rita Makarau

\n

 

\n

Makarau has already acknowledged that the new roll will borrow from the much-criticised old register that contained a large number of ghost voters and had many inaccuracies and anomalies.

\n

“It is always ideal to involve the citizenry in the making of a voters’ roll and as ZEC, we take cognisance of that. We will therefore consult the people in coming up with a new roll and this will be done at the information gathering stage,” Makarau told The Zimbabwean this week.

\n

ZEC would also involve faith-based and civil society organisations as well as political parties in the commission’s efforts to modify the old roll, but the consultation process would not be nationwide, she added.

\n

“Due to resource limitations, we will not be able to reach all corners of the country. We will only convene special meetings where people will give us feedback on the roll,” she said.

\n

This has raised fears that the new roll would not be error-free as the consultations would be limited.

\n

There is also concern that a few meetings would be elitist and not give voters enough space to raise their concerns.

\n

There have been calls from election watchdogs like the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) for the national electoral body to include as many people as possible. They argue that, in order to minimise or completely remove errors from the register, voters must be given the chance to inspect the roll from ward to national level to ensure that names, addresses and other details are correct.

\n

They also need to identify names that must be struck of the register due to death or absence from a ward or constituency.

\n

Earlier this year, ZEC embarked on a pilot voter registration exercise in two constituencies, Mount Darwin West and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe, where by-elections to replace Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa were held last week.

\n

But voters complained that they were not adequately consulted, resulting in old errors being retained in the new rolls. Zanu (PF) has in the past been accused of taking advantage of non-existent and non-resident voters to its advantage. ZEC has over the years been dogged by a critical shortage of financial and human resources, with critics also accusing the body of being managed by Zanu (PF) loyalists instead of non-partisan professionals.

\n

Makarau admitted that the old roll had shortcomings. “When we carried out the pilot project for the two constituencies (Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West) we noted a number of errors in the old voters’ roll, but they were not too serious,” she said. – The Zimbabwean