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BVR: Doubts over ZEC’s readiness for 2018

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has come under renewed attack over the way it is handling the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise following revelations the polls body is yet to take delivery of vital equipment needed for the exercise.

BY OBEY MANAYITI/EVERSON MUSHAVA

Zec will this week roll out the voter registration blitz, but opposition parties and civic groups are not convinced the commission is ready to produce a credible voters’ roll.

Last week the commission said it was still waiting for the delivery of an upgraded server from the United Nations Development Programme and the automated fingerprint identification system (Afis).

MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora described the ongoing voter registration exercise as a sham.

“We have requested for a technical interface meeting between Zec and political parties and up to now, nothing has been done.,” he said.

“We are very unhappy that Zec indicates right and turns left. It is quite unfortunate.”

Mwonzora said they were particulary worried about the unavailability of the upgraded server and the Afis.

“It is very dangerous for the process,” he said. “They risk running a very sham election.”

Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini weighed in, saying Zec had been insisting that it was ready for the exercise, but events on the ground told a different story.

“Sadly, some issues remain outstanding in preparation for the exercise, some of which are crucial if the process is to meet international principles for voter registration,” he said.

“Zec has also indicated that it is still to finalise outstanding procurement issues around both the server and the Afis.

“While the absence of these two crucial components do not necessarily prevent Zec from proceeding with the process considering that the blitz focuses on just collection of data, the absence of clarity on when these will be fully in place and how data will be secured between the blitz and the full set up of the server with the Afis casts aspersions on the voter registration process.”

Chimhini said Zec must set clear timelines so that its processes can be audited.

“Without full disclosure of anticipated timelines and sincere reassurance to both the public and electoral stakeholders that everything is in order, Zec risks being accused of rushing into a process that it is not fully prepared for, which may not necessarily be the case,” he said.

Concerned Citizens Support Network of Zimbabwe (CCSNZ), a pressure group that has been working towards exposing irregularities in the voter registration exercise, said there was no need to rush the process.

“Zec has lost credibility. As citizens, we no longer trust that Zec will be able to deliver a free, fair and credible election.
“Zec should simply be disbanded and make way for a new, independent and transparent body,” CCSNZ said.

“Failure to do so the government should brace itself for massive uprisings and civil unrest that will see Zimbabweans in all cities, towns and growth points in Zimbabwe exercising their democratic right to demonstrate and express their anger.”

The voter registration exercise will end in January next year ahead of the 2018 elections.

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