LEGAL think-tank, Veritas, has cast doubts on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) capacity to conduct a free and fair election in 2018, given the current circus bedevilling the electoral management body.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In its latest Elections Watch Bulletin, Veritas said: “Without a completely credible voters’ roll, whether a new one or an updated, cleaned up and inspected existing one, there cannot be a credible election next year, whether in March or any other month.”
Veritas predicted that Zec would only be able to complete a new voters’ roll in April next year despite earlier claims that the roll would be ready by December this year.
“This means that Zec could, but only just, be ready with a new voters’ roll in April next year, in time for a May proclamation for elections in July/August 2018 — but not in time for a March election.”
Zec has also discontinued the continuous voter registration exercise, which is a constitutional obligation.
Veritas says the only registrations of first-time voters since 2013 have been done in relatively few constituencies and wards, where by-elections were held.
Recently, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau told Parliament that the roll-out plan for voter registration is anticipated to be completed December 2017, where 2 585 biometric voter registration kits will be deployed for the national exercise, which will use 9 663 static registration centres, and one kit in each province is expected to register 6 400 voters during the four phases, averaging 1 600 registrations in each phase.
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede has also announced commencement of mobile registration for identity documents, birth and death certificates throughout the country that are crucial for voter registration.
However, civic groups like Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) still doubt the success of the registration programme due to poor publicity and feel that a lot of voters will be disenfranchised in 2018.
“ZimRights is concerned by the insinuations by the Registrar-General that people with metal IDs have to immediately change over to plastic IDs. It might be a daunting task to change over all people with metal IDs to plastic IDs in time for the same people to be able to register as voters,” the human rights watchdog said in a statement.