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Dead people still on voters’ roll

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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has publicly admitted for the first time that there are dead people on the voters’ roll especially in rural constituencies.

Previous commissions have always denied that dead people were on the voters’ roll, but in an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of a voter education consultative workshop in Harare yesterday, ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Laetitia Kazembe admitted the voters’ roll needed cleaning up.

Kazembe said chances of some dead people being on the roll in the next election remained high, given that deceased persons had to be first declared dead before they were deregistered as voters.

She said often in rural areas people die and get buried without deaths being recorded.

“If they are not registered as dead, they will remain on the voters’ roll. Unless someone or a chief comes with an affidavit to say they are dead, we will continue having that problem . . . Unfortunately there are no incentives to register a death so they remain on the voters’ roll,” she said.

Kazembe said in urban areas it was rare to find a dead person on the voters’ roll given that when a burial order was given, the dead person was then struck off the roll.
She said ZEC would educate people during the voter registration programme to register their dead relatives as part of efforts to have a credible election.

“We are very worried, you don’t want a voters’ roll that is not credible. It may be the beginning of a lot of questions,” she said.

Kazembe said the Registrar-General’s Office would register voters for the next polls although ZEC would monitor the exercise and carry out the compilation of the voters’ roll. She said ZEC did not have the capacity to register voters at the moment.

She also said the commission preferred to be weaned off the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs so that it would not be controlled by the Executive.

Kazembe said although ZEC did not take orders from the ministry on election matters it was prudent that the body becomes answerable to Parliament and not a ministry, like the Judicial Services Commission, so it would operate more professionally.

“The intention and desire is to move away from the Executive,” she said.

Meanwhile, ZEC has announced it will need $104 million for the draft constitution referendum and an additional $115 million for the elections. The cash-strapped electoral body sent its requirements to Finance minister Tendai Biti a month ago, but is still waiting for a response.

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