THE main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) is engaging the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) through its lawyers after the election management body released an unauditable copy of the voters’ roll, in violation of the Electoral Act, party official Ellen Shiriyedenga told The NewsHawks this week.
Should Zec fail to avail an auditable voters’ roll after the engagement, the opposition party will contemplate legal action.
Zec released copies of the voters’ roll to nominated candidates on Monday, after a long delay, which saw legislator Allan Markham taking the commission to court, demanding that it release an auditable electronic roll.
The High Court dismissed Markham’s case in March, prompting him to approach the Supreme Court, which however dismissed his appeal seeking to overturn the ruling.
Zec’s refusal to release the voters’ roll sparked an outcry from the opposition amid suspicion that the electoral body was manipulating the vote register in favour of Zanu PF. Section 21 (7) of the Electoral Act mandates Zec to release an analysable copy of the voters’ roll to nominated candidates.
It reads: “Where a voters’ roll is provided in electronic form in terms of subsection (3), (4) or (6), its format shall be such as allows its contents to be searched and analysed.”
Section 21 (6) also mandates Zec to release the voters’ roll in reasonable time after closure of the nomination process.
“Within a reasonable period of time after nomination day in an election, the Commission (Zec) shall provide: ‘(a) free of charge, to every nominated candidate, one copy in electronic form of the voters’ roll to be used in the election for which the candidate has been nominated; and (b) at the request of any nominated candidate, and on payment of the prescribed fee, one copy in printed form of the voters’ roll to be used in the election for which the candidate has been nominated’.” Shiriyedenga said the opposition is racing against time to audit the voters’ roll.
“We got the voters’ roll on Monday and then today (Wednesday), we received constituency voters’ rolls for our MP candidates. What we observed is that the voters’ roll is formatted in a way that it cannot be audited. It is not analyzable nor searchable as is required by law,” Shiriyedenga told The NewsHawks.
“It is in a PDF format and is encrypted to an extent that you cannot print out copies or convert it into any other format. Clearly, it is a toll order.
“We are currently in the process of engaging our lawyers so that we can engage Zec, because this is a breach of the law.”
Shiriyedenga said the unauditable voters’ roll is likely to dent the credibility of the general election.
“The roll should be analyzable and searchable. We are also looking at a situation that we do not have any faith in the voters’ roll based on our findings upon inspecting the roll a few weeks ago,” she said.
“And clearly, the auditing would have given us the opportunity to check if all the anomalies that were identified during the inspection have been corrected. But, that opportunity is lost given that the voters’ roll is in a format that is not analyzable.”
Many voters discovered they had been transferred from their usual polling stations during voter inspection in May, while many people who had voted in previous elections failed to find their names.
Zanu PF-affiliated Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), a Central Intelligence Organisation-run outfit, was also intimidating voters during the exercise, especially in rural areas.
Faz members were collecting voter information at inspection centres and demanding identity documents, among other shenanigans.
As previously reported by The NewsHawks, Faz, which has taken over election processes, rolling out door-to-door campaigns, night vigils, community events, technology-based messaging while monitoring all stages of the electoral process.
With three members in every ward, Faz has also been managing Zanu PF’s cell registers throughout the country.