Who is ZEC trying to fool?

Utoile Silaigwana,

IT is possible that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) will soon run out of excuses to explain the discrepancies on its voters roll.

For the past few weeks, we have been treated to a soap opera by the commission trying everything, from excuses, accusations and threats to escape responsibility for the mess of its own making.

Zec is having a hard time explaining the inconsistencies on the voters roll that it released after inviting stakeholders to buy a copy. The commission quickly learned that Zimbabweans were no dummies as pressure group, Team Pachedu, unearthed a number of irregularities after analysing the voters roll and noting unexplained changes to 156 polling stations, movement of 177 000 voters and registration of voters with unknown or unnamed residential addresses.

The exposure comes after the electoral body released conflicting statistics on the number of deceased people it removed from the voters roll and the number of new voter registrants in 2021.

Zec was at pains to explain why its voters roll has 3 253 people aged 100 years or more, including 11 who are older than the oldest known surviving person on earth in the Guinness World Book of Records.

Zec also threatened to sue activists and other pressure groups for exposing the anomalies because the disclosures were “a security risk.”

Now, it has tried throwing back the problem to political parties, and accusing them of causing discrepancies on the voters roll by allegedly issuing affidavits with same addresses to their supporters during the voter registration exercise.

Among the many glitches are that as many as 40 registrants were sometimes registered under one residential address or none at all.

True to form, Zec performed another summersault, with its chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana, accusing political parties, without naming any, of corruptly issuing affidavits with the same addresses to their supporters to register to vote resulting in the confusion.

Yes, this is the confusion that its information communication technology  should have easily picked and demanded explanations and resolved the issue without much drama.

“Some politicians are the chief culprits of this problem. The commission has now and again deliberated on this issue in our multi-party liaison committees, but to no avail,” Silaigwana said.

Blame someone and escape accountability, seems to be the motto.

Instead of addressing the concerns of manipulation of the voters roll, ZEC’s blame game adds to the suspicions that the voters roll has been tampered with.

Zimbabwe has been fighting the scourge of disputed polls since the turn of the new millennium, and the lingering questions over the credibility of the voters roll means that the problem is likely to remain unsolved into the foreseeable future.

ZEC’s piecemeal explanations, obfuscating and counter accusations do not help its cause. It has a duty to assuage the public that it has the capacity to deliver free and fair elections. On current evidence, that is unlikely to happen.