The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Five And a Half Million On Voters' Roll - Mudede

ZIMBABWE has slightly over 5,5 million registered voters, with the number expected to increase when mobile voter registration begins on January 3. Mobile voter registration would be done ahead of harmonised elections expected in March next year.

Although Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede could not be drawn to comment on the figures yesterday, he said as at November, registered voters were 5 589 355.

The number is lower than that of people who registered to vote in the 2008 polls by nearly 300 000.

There were 5 612 464 registered voters by December 2007, but the number rose to 5 934 768 by February the following year because of a mobile voter registration campaign.

February was the cut-off date for new registrations for the 2008 polls.

The fall in the number of registered voters could be a result of deaths.

"Voter population figure for the month of November 2012 is 5,589 355," said Mr Mudede.

"We are working hard to update our voters' roll on a daily basis as some people might have died. Once we get information about deceased people, we quickly clean up the voters' roll."

Mr Mudede said he was not aware if funds for voter registration had been found.

"I was away and I will have a meeting with stakeholders involved in the process to see about the funding and other things," he said.

Mr Mudede expressed concern over human rights organisations and non-governmental organisations meddling in the country's electoral processes.

He said tampering with the voters' roll results in an election not being accepted as free and fair.

This comes in the wake of the arrest of four ZimRights officials on accusations of publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.

They allegedly tried to discredit the voters' roll by manufacturing counterfeit copies of the certificate of registration as a voter which they would complete with false names of alleged registered voters. "Some NGOs have embarked on a campaign to deliberately discredit the national voters' roll by abusing their access to the national voters' roll," said Mr Mudede.

"The law allows anyone to request for a copy of the voters roll and this provision in turn avails voters' rolls to NGOs who in fact are conduits of external forces who have ulterior motives."

Mr Mudede accused the NGOs of "unashamedly" manipulating the voters' roll to discredit Zimbabwe's electoral system at the behest of their paymasters.

"It is the same NGOs that have been very vocal as to the state of the voters' roll, alleging that it is in shambles," he said. "To them, the word shambles has become a song yet they are the manipulators of the voters' roll."

Mr Mudede said such NGOs were aimed at creating political instability.

"This will result in lack of faith by the public in the existing voters' roll and electoral system.

"Worth noting is the fact that free and fair election is a much wider term in assessing elections. It covers a lot of issues, inter alia serious irregularities in the actual conduct of elections, voter registration and the voters' roll itself.

"Anything that goes wrong will result in the losing parties or candidates taking political or legal action over the cited irregularities."

Mr Mudede said losing candidates and political parties would produce the counterfeit voter registration certificates to the international community as proof of alleged rigging.

"These counterfeits are a recipe for confusion to the voting public resulting in misinterpretation of the electoral process," he said.

A number of people have tried in vain to discredit the national voters' roll in recent years.

Mr Mudede said they recently caught a man who was acting on behalf of a political party to manipulate the voters' roll.

The man reportedly had a strip with an ID number, which he would place on the ID numbers of certain voters on the roll and would then photocopy the roll.

This he did for the ID numbers of the affected voters to be different with those in the voters' roll.

Freelance journalist Thomas Madhuku was recently arrested after producing his own voters' roll, which he purported to be of Chipinge South constituency.

On examination, it was discovered that the names of voters on the roll were not in alphabetical order as should be the case with a genuine voters' roll.

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