Zec dogged by trust deficit: Makarau

HARARE - Zimbabwe is on track to compile a credible voter register ahead of nationwide elections in 2018 despite a credibility crisis dogging the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec), the head of the Zec has said.

Zimbabwe is hoping thumb print scans and voter cards with electronic bar codes will enable it to accurately register an estimated five million voters and eliminate the kind of fraud that has undermined previous elections.

An electoral roll riddled with fictitious names and omitting legitimate voters, combined with ballot-stuffing and intimidation, marred previous elections so badly that observers deemed them not to have been credible.

A tender for electronic voter registration kits - laptop computers, finger print scanners, cameras and printers - has been floated over the past two weeks.

Makarau said the delimitation exercise, a process of country wide polling station catchment area mapping, has been done.

“Mapping was done to lay groundwork for the polling station-specific voter registration in preparation for the 2018 harmonised elections," Makarau told journalists recently.

"The mapping exercise entailed drawing and describing polling station boundaries.

“Each polling station would be allocated a maximum of 1 500 voters. The form of registration and polling was in line with the international best practices.

“It was anticipated that the exercise was to be completed before end of year though the exercise was being hampered by inaccessibility of other areas due to rains. Provincial election officers and district election officers would physically verify the demarcated polling areas.”

Asked if the process could be manipulated, she said her organisation is engaging all stakeholders to iron out the issue of mistrust.

“Zec had always been neutral and would always conduct free and fair elections. Zec was however haunted by lack of trust, which it was currently addressing through stakeholder engagements,” she said.

Makarau also blamed the media for fuelling the doubt.

"Zec faced challenges of a polarised media which fuelled electoral disputes through misinformation. To ensure that disputes were reduced, Zec conducted stakeholder engagements.”

The Finance ministry has allocated just $9,8 million to the Zec for the year 2017, with leading poll observers warning that lack of funding to implement key electoral processes has a huge bearing on the quality of elections.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), a non-partisan network of 34 member organisations, has said as the country prepares for the new polling station-based and biometric voter registration for the 2018 harmonised elections, it was imperative for the government and Zec to speed up the crafting of electoral regulations as provided for under Section 192 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13).

The Mugabe government has refused to align the new charter to subsidiary legislation, throwing the impoverished country into renewed political uncertainty ahead of elections.

Opposition parties have said Makarau’s position is compromised considering that she is Zec chairperson, while at the same time she is the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) secretary.

“…the Zec chairperson should choose whether or not she would like to remain as Zec chair or she would like to retain her positions as a Supreme Court judge and secretary of the JSC.

“It is against the dictates of good corporate governance and international best practice for her to hold all these positions simultaneously. Certainly, Zimbabwe doesn't have a shortage of suitably qualified and experienced people who can be appointed to take up all these posts that…Makarau is currently occupying,” MDC spokesman Obert Gutu has said.

But Makarau again dismissed the accusation saying she does not see any conflict of interest and that all questions should be directed to the appointing authority, President Mugabe.

Comments (1)

Yes she does not se a conflict of interest because she is fucked!

Janana wa Bikaz - 28 December 2016

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