2018 polls hang in balance

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) could be forced to dump biometric voter registration (BVR) and revert to the old system, due to alleged security fears and meddling in the procurement of the voter kits for the 2018 polls, NewsDay has learnt.

BY BLESSED MHLANGA/EVERSON MUSHAVA

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau

This came as Zimbabwe’s opposition political parties threatened to boycott or disrupt the election should Zec revert to the old disputed voting system.

Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau (pictured) yesterday said the electoral body “will keep listening” to the concerns raised by stakeholders and if they make a case against the adoption of BVR, it would be abandoned.

“We are listening to the concerns and if we can address them, then we will. If they make a case, we might abandon the process. But at the moment we are not looking to abandon because the issues raised so far have been addressed,” she said.

The procurement process for the BVR kits has already been put in motion, with government pledging to fund the process for $17 million after Zanu PF recently embarked on a systematic campaign to discredit the BVR system.

But opposition parties yesterday said they were mulling protests and demonstrations to disrupt the 2018 general elections if Zanu PF and Zec abandoned or muddied the BVR procurement process.

MDC-T youth leader Happymore Chidziva warned his party would not participate in a pre-determined election, and instead of boycotting the elections, the party would disrupt the process through peaceful demonstrations.

“We are not going to allow next year’s election to be rigged. As youths, we are going to demonstrate the whole of next year including on the day of the elections,” Chidziva said.

“We want to warn Zanu PF that if they think that they will manipulate the 2018 election, they are daydreaming, people of Zimbabwe are not fools, we are not going to allow Zec to destroy our future.”

Zec last month announced that it had dumped the United Nations Development Programme in the procurement of the registration kits in favour of the government.

But MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu also said his party would pursue the use of BVR in the 2018 polls or use of only the national ID in the event that it was abandoned.

“We are actually strenuously pushing for the adoption of a transparent BVR process, failing which we will demand that the whole process should be abandoned and replaced by a process whereby each eligible voter will simply have to produce his/her national identity document to enable him/ her to vote in 2018,” Gutu said.

National People’s Party spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said the opposition would do everything within the law, including demonstrations and appealing to regional and international bodies, to ratchet up pressure on the government to adopt BVR.

“In the 2013 general elections, there were over 17 000 voters aged 117 years and all born on the same day, January 1. We have agreed to use the biometric voter register and government should respect it,” Mawarire said.

The National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a grouping of 13 opposition political parties pushing for electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 polls, also warned against dumping or manipulating the BVR system.

Nera head of legal affairs Douglas Mwonzora, who is also MDC-T secretary-general, said opposition political parties would not bow down to Zanu PF machinations to rule out biometric voting as earlier agreed upon.

“As Nera, we will not allow that to happen. There will be biometric voting in the 2018 general elections,” Mwonzora said.

People’s Democratic Party secretary for elections Settlement Chikwinya said although the biometric voter register had its own flaws, voting using the 2013 method of voter slips was “a worse devil”.

The Zimbabwe Election Support (Zesn) said all the security fears were being caused by misconceptions on the interpretation of the difference between BVR and electronic voting.

Zesn said a biometric voter register would capture physical and biological behavioural characteristics for physical identification of voters at polling station level, hence the fear of technology failure was unfounded given that the technology would only be used for registering voters.

“On election day, voters will still be required to present their identification documents and be issued with a paper ballot paper and not vote electronically. Hence, it is important to note that there will be no technology failure on election day as Zec will issue printed copies of the voters’ roll at polling stations,” Zesn said in a statement.

The Election Resource Centre said BVR was critical for a free and fair election.

21 Comments

  1. Eyes wide open. BVR better devil.

  2. Zanu PF will not allow itself to lose the election. Anything that makes voting fairer will be discarded.

  3. the problem is that you listen to people, whether they have good points or not. your final decision comes after you have consulted zanu. you have extra meetings with zanu who tell you wht to do. you did that even in your judgement when you were a judge.

  4. zanu will never win a free vote.thats what they know thats why all this effort to close the democratic space.

  5. Very true. Before 2013 elections, Makarau had secret meetings with Zanu PF organs and she can not deny that.

    1. iye atori ve zanu, Shame Zimbabwe

  6. zanu will never win a free vote.thats what they also know thus all this effort to close the democratic space.bvr will expose an inflated voters roll which they have perenially used to rig the vote.even this avenue for them is closed they will revert to the old system of using violence to have people vote for them.but i feel time is running out fast for them.

  7. Whats the definition for Treason?

  8. Zimbabwe’s opposition is too timid to make their presence felt in the the country. The best they know is making empty demonstration threats together with their usual misconception that boycotting an election will move Zanu PF an in inch offtrack, something (President) Mugabe is already immune to. Now the BVR tussle may consume a large chunk of their time yet the kits do not automatically translate to a purely free, fair and credible election. The kits, more often than not, work alongside the manual register on the election day in case of any breakdown and/or uncertainity still making the exercise prone to manipulation-padding and telegraphing. The system is also prone to hacking in favour of certain candidates, Whereas these kits are very helpful if used in good faith especially in the registration exercise, the opposition should not place the cart before the horse. They should not chase the kits forgetting to demand for reforms in the regime’s usual ploy in voter threats /intimidation, lack of transparency, demographic manipulation and registration barriers in opposition strongholds. They should also make sure that the public mental incerceration and misconception of the rural folk is eradicted. Unless we guard our independence and its cause jealously, Zanu PF will keep opening new tussles on a daily basis to scatter our (opposition) vision and mission upto and including the polling day. Lets go back to the drawing board.

  9. MAN KENYA, YOU ARE LYING.

  10. Man Kenya has a point. We should not lose focus

  11. Janana wa Bikaz

    Rita should be ashamed of yourself,you just want to make your own piece of history by treading where angels fear to tread?Why are you now shifting goal posts by saying”if the stake holders have concerns the BVR will be abondoned”?So in your warped and biased mind zanu pf is the “stakeholders”?Shame on you,shame on your kids,shame on your husband if you have any.

  12. @ S: For clarity, the role of BVR kits is to store the personal details of the voter among them facial recognition, date of birth, ID number, fingerprints, polling station etc. Upon showing up in the polling booth, the identity of your thumbprint will expose everything else. The rest proceeds manually i.e collecting the ballot paper, actual voting, putting your vote in the ballot box and counting. Only the transmission of results to the headquarters takes place digitally and is still prone to hacking. This thus can hardly translate to 100% free and fair exercise and the war for electoral reforms still stands. I welcome any criticism and evidence to the contrary.

  13. Janana wa Bikaz

    Rita, you should be ashamed of yourself,you just want to make your own piece of history by treading where angels fear to tread?Why are you now shifting goal posts by saying”if the stake holders have concerns the BVR will be abandoned”?So in your warped and biased mind zanu pf is the “stakeholders”?Shame on you,shame on your kids,shame on your husband if you have any.You are only there to act as a catalyst to speed up zanu pf’s agenda of stealing the 2018 elections thereby destroying our children’s future. History will judge you harshly.Zanu pf has used you to rob us of our rights to have free and fair elections for the past years.Enjoy it while it lasts Rita,for you will one day account for all your evil deeds.

  14. Janana wa Bikaz

    Rita, you should be ashamed of yourself by denying us free and fair polls.Why are you now shifting goal posts by saying”if the stake holders have concerns the BVR will be abandoned”?So in your warped and biased mind zanu pf is the “stakeholders”?Shame on you,shame on your kids,shame on your husband if you have any.You are only there to act as a catalyst to speed up zanu pf’s agenda of stealing the 2018 elections thereby destroying our children’s future. History will judge you harshly.Zanu pf has used you to rob us of our rights to have free and fair elections for the past years.Enjoy it while it lasts Rita, you will one day account for all your evil deeds.

  15. guys have u heard cindys new song

  16. this is all that ZEC and zanu pf have been waiting for they created a diversion by alleging that the govet has funds to secure the BVR kits, they new the opposition and civil groups will note take kindly to that and will cry foul alleging that the government wants to tamper with the process, this is all they wanted to use as an excuse to revert to the old system., and it appears the opposition has fallen for the ZEC and Zanu Pf ploy, now once the old system is back the best is to boycott , let us not be part of a system that is open to abuse by Mugabe and his Zanu Pf.

  17. Opposition parties have been blind sided by the BVR as if it’s a panacea. First of all they should and must insist on Electoral Reforms; second, they have to ensure that there is a clean manual Voters’roll accessible to the public before the end of this year; meaning that an active voter registration drive ought to be taking place as soon as possible, and last but not least there has to be a written Electoral Code of Conduct that will govern the conduct of all political parties, be it regarding the access to public/government media or the parties’ conduct at political rallies/ campaign trails. There doesn’t seem to be sufficient time for a BVR for a 2018 election, i.e. Procurement, training users, testing and rollout. Yes the BVR is eventually the way to go, but let’s clean our house first before we bring in the new gadget. If we place it in a dirty house, it will inevitably collect the dust and all the rot we have been complaining about.

  18. I can foresee a civil war if ZANU PF tries to play around with people’s minds like they did 2013. Zimbabweans want justice. Yes they fought in the Liberation struggle. But that doesn’t mean they should treat us anyhow. If we were there during the liberation struggle do you think we could not fight for ourselves. Personally I want justice on the oncoming elections. Surprisingly u see some able-bodied man pressurizing an old man to remain in power while their own grandfathers are ploughing in rural areas. LETS USE OUR BRAINS ZIMBABWEANS!!!!!!!!!!

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