CIVIC society organisations under the banner, iVote2018, have urged electoral authorities to implement certain guidelines before rolling out the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise to avoid compromising its integrity.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
This follows reports that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is expected to complete the acquisition of BVR equipment ahead of a fresh registration exercise in March.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and government are jointly financing the purchase of the equipment.
The iVote2018, while welcoming the development, however, said Zec still needed to gain the trust and confidence of the electorate by meeting certain pre-requisites so as not to compromise the BVR process.
“While the introduction of technology in elections is generally a progressive development, it is important that the pre-requisites for such are met in order for the development not to compromise the integrity of the electoral process and outcomes.
“In contexts such as Zimbabwe, where there is limited trust between the commission, the electorate, and opposition political parties, it is important that trust be restored through ensuring transparency within the entire process,” the civic groups said.
A biometric voting process electronically captures citizens’ data, including fingerprints and a digital photograph. The biometric system is known for doing away with multiple registrations and voting because it can easily detect duplicates.
“Therefore, the recommendations to ensure successful introduction of the BVR registration process, to the government are for increased citizens’ participation in the design and implementation of the process, extensive civic and voter education implemented under a framework that allows civil society organisations to play a central role
“Reforms on the electoral legislation that clearly set out the mechanisms and limitations on the use of obtained biometric data. This means that mechanisms must be put in place to protect the rights of citizens whose data is being collected,” the civic groups added.
Reports reveal that the Zec sent its staff on study tours to Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa and Uganda, among other countries, to study how the BVR system works.
The civic groups added: “Biometric technologies must be implemented in a manner that respects the right to privacy.
It should not result in the loss of one’s identity through what are called “false reject errors or false accept errors”.