Opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has taken President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to court challenging the recent proclamation of voter registration dates, which he argues is an illegal farce, which should be nullified.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said a team of lawyers had prepared an urgent High Court application to have the presidential proclamation nullified as Zec was ill-prepared and did not have the equipment to start the voter registration exercise.
“We are making an application to nullify Mugabe’s declaration, that voter registration is going to start on (September) 14 and end on January 15,” he said.
“The basis of the application is that there are no servers to store the information, there are no voter registration centres, and the people are still acquiring IDs in the blitz that is being done by the Registrar-General’s (RG) Office.
“In that proclamation, President Mugabe says that voter registration will end on January 15. What that implies is that he is disenfranchising anybody who turns 18 after that date and, lastly, the voter registration kits are not yet in the country.”
Zec has only received 400 test biometric voter registration (BVR) kits out of the expected 3 000 from China’s Laxton Group.
The kits were currently being used to train Zec officers ahead of the official launch of a nationwide registration blitz.
The other kits were only expected in the country between the end of this month and mid-October on condition Zec pays the balance of $3,5 million by Friday.
The MDC-T argues that Zec has been silent on how it will handle all the data collected during voter registration once the exercise begins.
BVR experts, who were also supplying Zec with the kits, in a memo which was leaked months ago, said the electoral body was supposed to set up a central data collection and storage system first before rolling out the registration exercise.
They raised security fears on the acquiring and handling of the central server.
This came amid speculation that Zec was planning to use the discredited data collection system set up by controversial Israeli company, Nikuv International Projects, at the RG’s Office.
Zec chairperson Rita Makarau disputed the allegations, saying her commission would advertise for a tender for the procurement of software for the central database or central automated finger identification system.
But the electoral management body is yet to do so, a day before Mugabe officially launches the registration exercise.
There were also fears that Zec was considering using a server which was donated to the Parliamentary Select Committee during the constitution-making process in 2013.
The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) has also expressed concern at the shambolic manner in which Zec was handling the process.
“We reiterate our calls for Zec to adopt the open data policy, which entails provision of key information in a timely, complete and easily understandable manner. In light of recent server-related challenges in Kenya, it is imperative for the commission to provide regular updates on the BVR process and a comprehensive roadmap.
“This will go a long way in allaying fears that are being raised by stakeholders,” Zesn said.