THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has ruled out any chances of having a clean and universally acceptable voters’ roll by 2018 given what it termed “fatal omissions” in the Electoral Amendment Act.
Zesn director Rindai Vava-Chipfunde told members of the Parliamentary Woman Caucus at an elections workshop in Kadoma over the weekend that the Act should have given the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission explicit rights to compile and manage the voters’ roll and take over that responsibility from the Register-General’s Office.
“Without a clear mandate to ZEC in the amendment, there is nothing much they can do to improve the voters roll from what it is now . . . Don’t expect a fair election without a clean voters’ roll because only a complete, accurate and current voters’ roll can bring about an acceptable election,” she said.
Speaking at the same event, ZEC commissioner Petty Makoni while admitting that it was difficult to have a perfect voters roll she said it was possible for the commission to have produced a clean polling station-based voters roll in the next elections.
“We are mandated by the constitution to prepare a voters roll and how we choose to do it becomes our business. But I can say we have been engaging with political parties and civil society and funding partners to ensure that come the next election we have an acceptable roll,” Makoni said.
She said the commission had also started working on production of a polling station-based voters roll as mandated by the constitution, adding that the document could be ready for use by 2018.
The voters roll was the major issue in the 2013 elections with MDC-T accusing the ruling party Zanu PF of using Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede and Israeli company NIKUV to tamper with the document to manipulate the election results.
Parliamentarians admitted that the Electoral Amendment Act was fraught with errors which will likely affect the outcome of 2018 elections. The legislators said they passed the Bill because they had been whipped to adopt it.
“The whipping system is bad for democracy and our parliament, we vote for bills and other issues in parliament along political lines and even if you don’t believe in the position you vote for it because if you don’t you will face censor from your party,” said Senator Rorana Muchiwa (MDC-T).
Another MDC-T legislator Evelyn Masaiti said most parliamentarians just passed Bills in Parliament out of ignorance.
“There is need for us to seek outside resources so that we can understand some of the bills we pass in parliament, because this bill was passed by people who really did not understand it,” Masaitisaid.