ZIMBABWE is likely to head into the 23 August general elections with serious unresolved issues, putting the credibility of the poll at stake, The NewsHawks has learnt.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) opened the voters’ roll for inspection this week, resulting in chaos. It emerged that the vote register has serious anomalies, with a number of registered voters missing from the roll, raising public outcry.
This has cast doubt over the integrity of the election, three months before polling day.
The main opposition CCC this week wrote to Zec demanding a searchable voters’ roll, which the electoral body has been refusing to provide.
In a letter dated 29 May addressed to Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, senior opposition official Ian Makone wrote to Zec highlighting some of the anomalies within the voters’ roll and the electoral system, which should be addresses before the polls.
The party requested a meeting with Zec to iron out the issues.
“As the Citizens’ Coalition for Change, we have noted serious anomalies in the voters’ roll that has been laid out for inspection by the public. A reflective sample across all the 10 provinces in the country have indicated numerous errors of commission and omission which indicate deviations from the constitutional standards of a credible voters’ roll,” read the letter.
The main issues raised by the CCC arising from the preliminary reports received from the inspection process include missing names of voters, some of which had voted in 2018 and others in the March 2022 By-elections. For instance, in ward 25 of Gokwe Nembudziya constituency, all surnames starting from (A-Mu) are missing from the ward voters, said the opposition in the letter.
“Registered voters who have been appearing on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) online inspection platform are suddenly missing their names from the current online platforms and the voters’ roll under inspection. The voters’ roll under inspection seems not to be synchronised with the new delimitation boundaries. Resultantly, prospective voters have been displaced from their wards of residence.
“Some registered voters have been moved several kilometres away from their polling stations and even to different wards, a deviation from what Zec indicated to stakeholders that it will reorganise the delimitation boundaries using polling areas,” reads the letter.
The CCC also raised concern over the presence of CIO-run Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (Faz) Trust at inspection centres, which has also sparked an outcry.
FAZ, led by CIO co-deputy director-general retired Brigadier-General Walter Tapfumaneyi, has also secretly taken over the running of national elections — designed to manipulate the process in favour of the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government — from the military.
Sources say, so far, Faz has received US$10 million and 200 cars to run its affairs in preparation for elections. More resources have been promised to capacitate the secret structure.
“The presence of Faz organisation at the inspectionCentres must be explained because in some instances Faz officials are interfering with, and even controlling the process. We cannot have an illegal body overriding the operations of a constitutional body,” wrote Makone.
On its website, Faz says it is a private organisation that contributes, through active mobilisation, to win the hearts and minds of the electorate, to maintain Zanu PF’s governance.
“We cannot have an illegal body overriding the operations of a constitutional body. Finally, we restate our demand for a searchable, analyzable and auditable voters’ roll. A voters’ roll which will be certified and signed off for use on election day,” read the letter.
“In the circumstances, we request an urgent meeting to address these issues.”
Zec has also been under fire over a chaotic delimitation process that has been riddled with errors, and has widely been criticised for its serious shortfalls that include gerrymandering in favour of Zanu PF.
Analysts have also expressed concern over Zec’s decision to retain flaws flagged in the preliminary delimitation report presented to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in December last year.
The report also resulted in divisions among commissioners, with seven commissioners speaking out against the delimitation report effectively opposing chairperson Chigumba.
As a result of the fallout, Chigumba removed Commissioner Jasper Mangwana and his deputy Catherine Mpofu from their roles as spokespersons of the election management body.