The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Goes Digital

ELECTION results will be electronically transmitted countrywide to undo claims of vote tampering, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said.

Acting ZEC chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said the commission was installing software linking the national command centre with all district offices nationwide to enable ZEC to electronically transmit election results without fear of people tampering with the outcome.

In an interview on the sidelines of a two-day media training workshop on election reporting in Kadoma on Wednesday, Mrs Kazembe said the software would be in place by January next year.

"We are currently putting in place software that will be used to transmit the election results and we hope the cable linking all the districts with the command centre (in Harare) will be in place by January," she said.

Mrs Kazembe said the exercise was an expensive, but expressed optimism that it would be ready by March next year when the country is expected to vote in harmonised elections.

"In our budget we presented to the UNDP, we indicated that the laying of the cable linking the districts with the command centre will cost about US$20 million.

"A consultant has done a study and I will soon be receiving the documents. What I know right now is we have reached a stage of buying the equipment including computers and other accessories needed, of course after going through a tender process," she said.

During harmonised elections held in March 2008, some ZEC officials were accused of posting wrong figures leading to the contestation of the outcome.

Said Mrs Kazembe:"We are trying to eliminate human error when transmitting the results by computerising the whole process. There were 23 constituencies (in the 2008 general elections) where there was misposting of the results and we had to order a recount of the ballots.

"Every vote is crucial. If it is misposted, it has serious consequences because the winner (in case of presidential elections) should have 50 percent of the votes cast plus one vote. So we decided to computerise to solve this problem and have the original copies of the V 11 (Eleven) forms."

The V 11 forms contain information at all polling stations in wards and in case of the 2008 harmonised election there were about 10 000 polling stations.

This form also includes information such as the number of ballot papers supplied, used, spoilt and those that cannot be accounted for.

The form also has signatures of all people conducting the elections at that station and these include polling agents representing political parties, local and foreign observers and ZEC officials among others.

Mrs Kazembe said ZEC needed more resources to lay the infrastructure and hire helicopters to reach out to some areas not accessible by road.

"If we achieve this, the margin of error will be reduced," she said. ZEC and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa sponsored the two-day workshop.

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