The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and political analysts have expressed concern over the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to avail the voters’ roll especially for the sitting of the Nomination Court.
In a move that has unsettled civil society, sections of the international community and the generality of Zimbabweans, ZEC, Zimbabwe’s election management body, could not avail the voters roll in time for the sitting of the nomination court for the country’s harmonized elections set for 31 July this year.
As stipulated in Section 155(2)(c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ZEC must have ensured that all political parties and candidates access to all material and information necessary for them to effectively in the elections. Zimbabwe’s Electoral Act in Section 21(1) and (3) explicitly states that “the voters’ roll shall be a public document and within a reasonable time period after calling of an election, the Commission shall provide it in printed or electronic form as the person may request.”
In the election roadmap that ZEC shared with stakeholders a few days ago, the production of a soft copy voters’ roll for nomination in was scheduled to be finished on 10 June 2018. The roll was supposed to have been made public before the sitting of the Nomination Court that is currently ongoing. As per a statement issued by ZESN, access to the voters’ roll was necessary to enable election candidates to adequately prepare for the submission of nomination papers. It is a requirement that candidates be nominated by people who appear on the voters’ roll.
“Given that the voters’ roll has been a contentious issue in previous elections and there are 46 days before polling, it is imperative that the voters roll be made available to all stakeholders in order to enhance confidence and trust in the electoral process”, said ZESN, a Harare based election monitoring coalition.
In view of the failure to avail the voters roll, which Dr. Pedzisai Ruhanya, a University of Johannesburg based political analyst said is part of attempts to manipulate the elections, ZESN reiterated its calls for ZEC to adhere by the principles of the open data policy and transparency at every critical stage of the electoral cycle. As ZESN said, an open data policy is necessary to enhance the integrity and credibility of the elections.
As ZESN said, ZEC was obliged to avail an analyzable copy of the voters’ roll upon the proclamation of the Election date.
“That the voters roll is not yet in place at the time of the sitting of the nomination court points to a menu of electoral manipulation that has become part of the Zimbabwean political culture”, said Tamuka Chirimambowa of Zimbabwe’s Institute of Public Affairs.