Speed up biometric voter registration

BULAWAYO - The delay in the commencement of biometric voter registration is likely to compromise the quality and integrity of the new voters’ roll, a consortium of organisations running a new campaign, iVote2018, has said.

As the country prepares for the new polling station-based and biometric voter registration for the 2018 harmonised elections, it is imperative for the government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to speed up the process.

“Regional, continental and international best practices have shown that successful introduction of electoral technology requires at least 24 months before the date of elections,” Liberty Bhebhe, spokesperson of the consortium, said.

“It is hence worrying that the commission is unclear about the start and end-dates for the voter registration process, with barely 18 months remaining before the next elections.

“The remaining timeframe indicates that Zimbabwe has entered the red zone if the notion to use electoral technology in compiling a fresh voters’ roll is pursued

“It is important that the pre-requisites for such are met in order for the development not to compromise the integrity of the electoral process and outcomes.”

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 month.

Zec chairperson Rita Makarau has 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.”

The consortium called on Zec to restore long lost trust between itself and stakeholders.

“In contexts such as Zimbabwe, where there is limited trust between the commission, the electorate, and opposition political parties, it is important that trust be restored trough ensuring transparency within the entire process,” Bhebhe said.

Makarau has 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.”

Bhebhe said it was important that citizen participation in the design and implementation of the process is upheld and extensive civic and voter education be implemented under a framework that allows civil society organisations to play a central role.

Comments (4)

Why the delay Rita when funds were availed by the UNDP. You want again trying to find silly reasons to eliminate and exclude millions of legitimate Zimbabweans from national elections

Dambu - 15 January 2017

Why the delay Rita when funds were availed by the UNDP. You want again trying to find silly reasons to eliminate and exclude millions of legitimate Zimbabweans from national elections

Dambu - 15 January 2017

We. Know Zanupf will never allow millions of urban youths to register and vote. To date noone is issuing IDs. Do they hope to do it all at once in 2018? Already the 2018 elections are rigged.

Gweture - 15 January 2017

@Gweture.Rita is giving excuse that the rains have stopped the process yet we ahvent seen progress even in the accessible towns.. To her elections is when rural people vote

FMX - 15 January 2017

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