THE Registrar-General’s Office has begun a voter-registration exercise that will run until May 19.
The Standard Editorial
The country-wide exercise is part of preparations for the harmonised elections that are being rushed to meet the June 29 deadline, preferred by President Robert Mugabe.
While welcome, this exercise alone, which will gobble US$13 million, will not yield an electoral roll that is transparent, up-to-date and a true reflection of the potential voters in Zimbabwe.
It will be more of the same document that is severely flawed and unacceptable to all the major political players in the country.
The voters’ roll is currently riddled with names of dead people, the prominent among them being Lardner Burke, the former Minister of Law and Order and Justice who ordered President Robert Mugabe’s detention in 1963. Burke who passed away in South Africa in 1984 remained eligible to vote in Zimbabwe in the 2008 elections.
Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith was also still registered as a voter last year. Merely adding more names to this shambolic voters’ roll with ghost
voters will not change anything.
It is therefore critical that the RG’s office overhauls the electoral roll as the nation prepares for polls that could end the political log jam.
The starting point would be an independent audit that would flush out ghost voters. A chaotic registration system which has allowed duplicate entries and voters to be enrolled in wrong constituencies should also be done away with.
These problems need to be sorted out first, since a credible voters’ roll is a critical element of a free and fair election.
There are already accusations being traded by political parties regarding the manipulation of the voters’ roll.
Such claims should be attended to without any bias if Zimbabwe is to have a voters’ roll that can be embraced by all political parties.
The voters’ roll must also not be a secret document and should be made accessible to every Zimbabwean in both print and soft format. Charging up to US$30 000 for
a copy of the roll is not only daylight robbery but an infringement of freedom to access information.