29 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Electoral Commission Fails to Release Voters' Roll to Parties

Six-million Zimbabweans have reportedly registered to cast their vote in the country's general elections on Wednesday. ( Resource: Contentious Zimbabwe Elections Draw Millions of Voters )

There is still no sign of the voters roll from the Electoral Commission, just two days before Zimbabweans go to the polls Wednesday.

The MDC formations have raised concern at the electoral body's failure to ensure that the voters roll was available to them for auditing well ahead of the elections.

So far, reports indicate that the Commission has only managed to release bits and pieces of the important document, to its provincial offices, and not to the political parties who have been asking for it.

On Sunday, Nelson Chamisa of the MDC-T told the Al Jazeera news service that the party still had not received important election-related information.

"The voters' roll has not been availed to us, and we don't know who is printing the ballot papers. We don't know where those ballot papers are being printed," Chamisa said.

Senator David Coltart, the Ncube-led MDC legal affairs secretary, said that by failing to avail the voters' roll, ZEC was violating the Electoral Act.

In a statement that was also posted on Coltart's Facebook page, the MDC said: "Section 21(4) of the Electoral Act states "within a reasonable period of time after the calling of an election, the Commission shall provide, on payment of the prescribed fee, to every political party that intends to contest the election, and to any observer who requests it, one copy of every voters roll to be used in the election, either in printed or in electronic form as the party or observer may request."

"The MDC has repeatedly asked the ZEC to provide us with a voters roll. Last Friday we wrote to the ZEC asking for a copy of the roll," but by weekend, the party said it was still waiting, with no sign of the document.

The statement further stated: "A 'reasonable period of time after the calling of an election' means just that. The election was called on the 13th June and 6 weeks have since elapsed - and yet we still do not have a copy of the voters roll."

The party added that this was "a grossly unreasonable period of time left to study and use the voters roll."

"The Commission Voters rolls are meant to be used by political parties the world over to analyse who is in particular constituencies so that they can be spoken to and encouraged to vote. That opportunity is now denied us.

"Furthermore in the Zimbabwean context, where rigging has abounded in the past, it is critically important that parties be given sufficient time to analyse and audit the voters roll. That right has now been denied us."

Both MDC formations have accused ZEC of conducting a shambolic electoral process - which observers say has denied many Zimbabweans of the right to vote, to ZANU PF's advantage.

MDC's elections directorate official, Abednico Moyo, said the absence of the voters' roll discredits the electoral process.

Moyo said: "Without a voters' roll parties cannot reconcile the number of voters and the ballot papers supplied by ZEC.

"That in itself means the process is discredited and therefore the result of such a process can only be discredited and contestable," Moyo added.

Copyright © 2013 SW Radio Africa. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.