Zec must allow for external audit of voters’ roll

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THE proposal by electoral watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), for the  under-fire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to consider engaging independent auditors to scrutinise the voters’ roll as a way of restoring confidence in the electoral process, is noble and worth considering.

The electoral body has of late been criticised for several irregularities picked up in its latest voters’ roll by opposition political parties and activist groups such as Team Pachedu.

Some of the discrepancies unearthed by activist groups include changes to 156 polling stations, movement of 177 000 voters and registration of voters with unknown or unnamed residential addresses.

As a way to restore public confidence in the electoral process, Zesn advised the election administrator to allow reputable independent audit companies to interrogate the voters’ roll.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn)

“Zesn reiterates its call for Zec to consider independent audits of the voters’ roll by reputable audit companies as a way to build trust and confidence in the voters’ roll. Zesn further urges Zec to avail the voters’ roll to other key electoral stakeholders who may indicate an interest to also analyse and triangulate the information,” Zesn said.

We could not agree more with Zesn particularly as we approach the watershed harmonised polls next year. There is need for a voters’ roll that engenders confidence in all the stakeholders involved in the electoral processes and reduce allegations of Zec tampering with the voters’ roll. An independent audit will help Zec to regain credibility which has taken a hammering due to various glaring discrepancies on the voters’ roll. It is sad that Zec has become a laughing stock as a result of basic errors that have no place in electoral processes.

Just recently, the electoral body admitted that it had deprived thousands of prospective first-time voters an opportunity to participate in the upcoming by-elections after it failed to provide adequate and accessible registration centres throughout the country.

The electoral body was in the eye of a storm over the past few weeks after it gave two different figures of first-time voters it registered last year.

Initially, it said only 2 000 had been registered as first-time voters throughout the year, but later revised the figure to 2 951.

Zec courted the ire of civic groups after it initially indicated that 22 000 deceased voters would be removed from the voters’ roll, before bumping up the figure to 35 085.

Such embarrassing gaffes do not augur well for free and fair elections. An independent audit as proposed by Zesn will go a long way in restoring the much-needed confidence in Zec.