Zec cannot afford any more slip-ups

Zec chairperson Rita Makarau

THE past few days have been punctuated by reports that some prospective voters cannot find the wards they would vote in when they went for voter registration.

To add insult to injury, there are claims that others, who have gone to register in Mabelreign, as residents of that area, have been told that they are supposed to vote in Epworth, which is across town and impractical.

This could just be the tip of the iceberg, as more complaints are filtering in on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) sometimes shambolic voter registration process.

This is the first time Zimbabwe is using biometric voter registration (BVR) and Zec could be forgiven on the basis that these could be teething problems and the process will be smoother with the passage of time.

However, this is a delicate process and Zec is not afforded the chance to rehearse, but must quickly jump into the deep end and get a feel of the temperature there.

Zec cannot afford any more slip-ups because it will be perceived as aiding Zanu PF in the next elections.

The elections body may explain the cause of the problem, but trust in the organisation is very low and sceptics are looking for a way to nail Zec.

This is not a conspiracy of any sorts; on a perceptions index — if ever there was one — Zec is seen as a pliant body that is there to do the bidding of Zanu PF and any missteps would be over-scrutinised, with the final judgment that the body cannot conduct free, fair and credible polls.

What is important is for Zec to be as transparent as possible, explain why some prospective voters are not finding their voting centres and, above all, point out how it will address these anomalies.

If it means that Zec holds daily briefings with the media and explain each process, so be it, as this is the only way the body can show that it is not held by the captive Zanu PF.

The body should also always have a back-up plan, in case its machinery develops faults, as turning away people intending to register will always raise eyebrows.

What Zec needs now is to build confidence and improve how it is perceived by the public, as this is the only way it can be trusted to hold free and fair elections.

Its operations should be transparent, while its staff must always be approachable when sought for explanations where people have questions.


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