Monday, July 30, 2018

ESR calls on Zec to ensure ‘sufficient transparency’

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The Election Situation Room (ESR) has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to ensure sufficient transparency prevails in this year’s election results aggregation, tabulation and publication processes.
BY STAFF REPORTER
The ESR said Zec must publish an Excel spreadsheet that lists all the results by polling station as they are confirmed to provide much-needed assurance on the visibility and trust in the electoral process.
“In order to meet its legal obligation to present the Zimbabwean electorate with a transparent Presidential return and not simply a tabulated total figure, Zec should publicly release the spreadsheet containing the Presidential election results from each polling station underpinning the aggregated total Presidential results from the July 30 election,” the ESR statement said.
It said Zec had a dedicated official website and there were no IT-related challenges to uploading such a spreadsheet to its website at the very same time as it announces the tabulated aggregated result to its citizens.
“This level of transparency is in compliance with Zimbabwean law and fully in line with Zimbabwe’s regional and continental commitments to democratic elections,” ESR said.
“Political parties and observer organisations need to be able to check and verify that the tallied results match the results collected by their agents and observers at the polling centres in order to provide confidence in the results. There is a serious risk of non-acceptance of the results if stakeholders are unable to verify
tallying.”
The electoral watchdog said Zec’s poll worker manual was silent on how the commission intends to process presidential election results at its national command centre in Harare.
“In fact, Zec has, to date, not published any information regarding its results tabulation procedures at the national command centre,” ESR said.
British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, urged Zec to respond to “this important call from civil society”.
“Providing results data in this way would increase confidence in the results tabulation process,” Laing said on her Twitter page.
ESR also questioned the integrity of the final voters’ roll following speculative reports that Zec’s de-duplication process could have left out some ghost voters.

“Biometric systems have been introduced to provide a unique identification for each voter. The automatic finger print identification system (AFIS) was explicitly procured to identify and eliminate the possibility of duplicate entries. For this to work, every entry on the register must be checked against every other voter entry.
“To increase confidence in the electoral process Zec needs to confirm and reassure voters that the AFIS system has been run against every single voter entry to clearly identify and eliminate duplicates.”
It also expressed concern over the late release of the final voters’ roll.
“It is most unfortunate that yet again the final roll was only made available 96 hours before election day, leaving insufficient time for it to be analysed by political parties and independent groups,” ESR said.