Zec must inspire confidence

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s announcement that it requires $50 million to acquire equipment to compile a fresh voters’ roll should be taken with a pinch of salt.

This is so given the fact that Zec has been, for almost two years, rebuffing attempts by opposition parties to avail the voters’ roll which they feel was grossly manipulated by Zanu PF to guarantee victory in the disputed July 31, 2013 elections.

While Zec is saying it is in a dilemma to come up with a new voters’ roll or to improve the already existing one, we feel the commission should do what is feasible.

Trying to come up with $50 million in a country that is reeling financially is an excuse not to establish a new voters’ roll.

The Zimbabwean government is technically broke so the logical plan is to clean up the voters’ roll to the satisfaction of all political parties.

But the timing of the announcement by Zec, which comes against boycotts of the impending by-elections by main opposition political parties, is suspicious no matter how well-intended is the national electoral governing body.

Opposition parties have decried the reluctance by the ruling Zanu PF government to align the laws to bring key electoral reforms as demanded by the new constitution.

But for Zec to announce that it needs the jaw-dropping $50 million for a new voters’ roll, when it is expected to explain its role in the electoral reforms which are long overdue, could be interpreted as a sign of looking for excuses.

Certainly, the hard-pressed government will not prioritise raising $50 million for a new voters’ roll at a time it is battling to pay the bloated civil service.

Even Zec itself knows that given the challenges besetting the organisation which include struggling to pay salaries for its employees.

Zec should clean up the voters’ roll and regain its credibility and good standing.

In terms of the new Constitution, Zec took over voter registration, keeping and maintenance of the voters’ roll from the Registrar-General’s office. The electoral body is expected to come up with its own independent voters’ roll for future elections, including 2018.

Zec has a huge task of re-gaining the confidence of the sceptical electorate and must demonstrate its independence and ability to run credible elections which, for the last 15 years, have always been a source of disputes stemming from allegations of poll rigging.

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