Saturday, June 16, 2018

Zec releases dummy voters’ roll

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THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday said it will release the consolidated electronic copy of the much-awaited 2018 voters’ roll to candidates participating in this year’s polls, while the printed format is expected to be out soon.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/
BLESSED MHLANGA
The roll, which contains 5,6 million voters showed that there was still work to do as other names were still missing.
“The voters’ roll contains 5 681 604 registered voters, this figure excludes those who were registered after the cut-off date of June 1, and those on the exclusion list. The exclusion list include the deceased, those with identification document queries… those whose data is yet to be decrypted who registered during the inspection period,” the Zec statement read.
Those who registered during the inspection period were by law eligible to vote in the 2018 general elections and, hence, they should be included in the consolidated voters’ roll.
The partial release came amid pressure from opposition parties and independent election lobby groups after the nomination court sat on Thursday without the voters’ roll.
Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba (pictured) said she was aware of the critical role the voters’ roll played in elections and the commission was working flat out to make sure that the printed format was released urgently.
“We are in the process of collating and collecting all statistics from our 10 provinces to facilitate gazetting of names of all successfully nominated candidates.
Thereafter, all successful nominated candidates will be availed with the electronic copy of the voters’ roll at the commission’s expense,” Zec said.
“Be that as it may, the commission hopes that the voters’ roll that is unveiled today (yesterday) will meet public expectations and stakeholders who have devoted their precious time and resources in complementing Zec’s effort towards the preparation of the voters roll.”
On Thursday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, on behalf of the National Constitutional Assembly, dragged the commission to court demanding that they release the voters’ roll before the nomination court sat and independent electoral watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) warned the failure by Zec to release the voters’ roll could lead to a disputed poll.
The MDC Alliance has been pushing for the release of the voters’ roll for them to engage an independent auditor to ensure that it would not be used for rigging by the ruling Zanu PF.
Chigumba, however, said all political parties were furnished with the provisional voters’ roll before the sitting of the nomination court.
Chigumba castigated acts of vote-buying and urged the media to report fairly. She also challenged people to bring evidence of voter intimidation by the military.
Earlier, the High Court had ordered Zec to release the provisional voters’ roll to the Elections Resource Centre (ERC).
In delivering the order on Thursday High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi said Zec was mandated by law to present the roll to any voter who needed it.
“The respondent is under legal obligation upon request by any person for a copy of any voter’s roll, to provide such copy in electronic of printed form, as the person might request, subject to the condition that the person requesting pays the prescribed fee,” Justice Chitapi said.
The court dismissed arguments by Zec that the Electoral Act only mandated the body to release the final voters’ roll and not the provisional voters roll, saying this was dealt with by the Constitution.
“Sections 62 (1) and (2) provide the right for every Zimbabwean, permenant resident or juristic person, to access any information held by the state or any of its organs at any level provided that information is required in the interests of public accountability or in the excise or protection of a right.
“It does not appear to me that the provisional voters’ roll requested by ERC falls outside the scope of what could be classified as any information,” part of the judgment read.
Justice Chitapi said Zec should provide the provisional voters’ roll to ERC because it was a way of public accountability and removed potential disputes of the election.
“Provisional or final should be availed for scrutiny all the time so that there are no electoral disputes that may arise based on the content of the voters’ roll,” part of the judgment read.
Zec was ordered to furnish ERC with the provisional voters’ roll which it used for the general public inspection from May 19 to 29.
The roll should be in the hands of ERC within five working days from the issue of the order.