'Zec likely to revert to discredited voters' roll'

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is likely to use the discredited 2013 voter register in next year’s election, as the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process will not be completed in time, analysts claim.

They argued that the BVR system requires careful planning, preparation and implementation, making the whole process time consuming.

There is also need for an inclusive and comprehensive voter education to demystify some of the questions around introduction of the new technology.

Also, and crucially, Zec is yet to announce the company that will supply the BVR kits.

Electoral issues expert Vivid Gwede said “there has been significant delays already in terms of bringing in the BVR process, especially considering that it is a new thing that people must amply familiarise themselves with”.

“It is not certain that the current timelines, as delayed as they are, will even be met,” he said, adding “that alone has a risk of plunging the forthcoming election into rather a foreseeable dispute”.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said any new electoral change and in particular, a technology-based system such as BVR, should be rolled out well in advance of the election to enable the electorate enough time to familiarise and accept the process.

“Given the lack of clarity in the BVR process and the delays, there is real possibility of reverting to the 2013 framework which, of course, casts doubt on transparency and ultimately the legitimacy of the electoral process,” she said.

“Regarding the legal aspects”, she said, “as we pointed out the draft BVR regulations as presently formulated does not compel Zec to deploy BVR”.

“So the loose wording in the regulations is problematic in that regard. There is need to make it clear that Zec is discarding the old towards a new BVR system,” Chipfunde-Vava said.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu added that they hoped the BVR roll out will proceed expeditiously and in a very transparent and credible manner.

“The long and short of it is that Zimbabwe needs a clean and legitimate national voters’ roll in time for next year’s elections. The fiasco of 2013 shouldn’t be repeated,” he said.

“In 2013, the national voters’ roll was a complete shambles and as a result, the election was stolen by Zanu PF through the massive use of voter registration slips, among other rigging tactics,” Gutu said.

“Put bluntly, without a credible and clean voters’ roll, there will be completely no point in holding elections next year,” he said.

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