CSOs sponsoring multiple voters: Zec

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Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/SHARON BUWERIMWE

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday claimed that it had unearthed a scam where civic groups were allegedly enticing voters already on the roll to register multiple times so as to discredit the electoral management body.

Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba told local television station, ZTN, that the electoral body’s verification system  had identified several multiple voter registrants sponsored by civic groups.

“There were a lot of people who were given incentives to register to vote. Those people did not disclose to the NGOs [non-governmental organisation] and to the civil society organisations that they were already registered to vote in order to access the incentives,” Chigumba said.

“Those people were then flagged by our system that there is a person with one set of fingerprints who registered six times to vote, but they were already on the voters’ roll.

“So what happens in our system is that if you register 10 times to vote, it will only recognise one file, it will only say that there is one registrant. You cannot cheat the Zec voter registration system.”

She added: “Our system works on the basis of fingerprints as primary identification. The system does not care about your national identity. It notifies us that there is one person who is trying to register six or more times. We only accept one set of finger prints per person and we reject the
others.

“This is what is happening, It has been reported to us that they would deliberately go to registration centres and they would deliberately go to different organisations that are mobilising people to register to vote and they would access incentives and when it comes to being entered as a registrant on the voters’ roll, this identifies them as multiple registrants.”

Zec’s voter registration exercise has been condemned by civic groups and election watchdogs as not inclusive and likely to disenfranchise thousands of potential first-time voters.

The electoral body has admitted that its voter registration centres are few, and far apart, and promised to rectify the problem through a voter registration blitz to be launched next month.

Meanwhile, the Residents Associations Coalition for Electoral Reforms (RACER) yesterday called on Zec to speed up the voter registration process by opening more centres.

RACER spokesperson Marvelous Khumalo told journalists in Harare that the March 26 by-elections would only be deemed free and fair if all eligible voters are afforded the opportunity to vote.

“The credibility of the upcoming by-elections depends on the conduct of Zec, State media and the security sector. Zec should fully play its role in an impartial manner as this is the panacea to free and fair elections,” Khumalo said.

“All contesting parties must be afforded equal access to all electoral events and all candidates must be granted fair media access for campaigning and advertising purposes. Political parties should also exercise peace and political tolerance.”

He said the coalition was putting in place mechanisms for a massive voter mobilisation drive aimed at addressing voter apathy witnessed in the past by-elections.

He blamed the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office for failing to speed up the issuance of identity documents needed during voter registration.

Last year, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said the RG Office’s was facing a serious shortage of consumables required in the production of identity documents.

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