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Names vanish from voters roll

2023 Elections
File pic: Voters roll inspection

THE on-going Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) voters roll inspection exercise has exposed major anomalies as many people including prominent opposition politicians could not locate their names on the roll.

The exercise started on Saturday and ends tomorrow.

Several opposition leaders, among them Bulawayo Central proportional representation Member of Parliament Jasmine Toffa (CCC) had their names missing on the voters roll.

Toffa yesterday told NewsDay that she was surprised that her name has been removed from the voters roll.

“Two weeks ago, I dialled *265# to check my name and it reflected. I took a screenshot and kept it. Yesterday I decided to check again and I saw that my name was no longer there.  I went to do a physical check and my name was not there. I found a number of people queuing there who had the same challenges. Zec officials said they are facing technical difficulties, and I don’t understand how something that is on the computer does not print out on a hard copy,” Toffa said.

Bulawayo Central legislator Nicola Watson’s name was also missing.

“Bulawayo councillor Edwin Ndlovu’s name was also missing. This is unacceptable as the magnitude of error is extremely high. Most people don’t even know where to check their names,” she said.

An opposition CCC member in Victoria Falls, Ephias Mambume said he registered and voted in 2018, but yesterday he could not find his name on the voters roll.

“I am aware that this is not an isolated case, this is scientific rigging in process,” Mambume told NewsDay.

A Bulawayo resident, who preferred anonymity said he found out that he was suddenly transferred from Nketa constituency to Nkulumane, which is a different ward.

Journalist Zenzele Ndebele also said he could not locate his name.

“I have checked my name and can confirm that it is not on the voters roll.  And the four guys who came when I was there were also not on the voters roll,” Ndebele tweeted.

In a letter dated May 29, addressed to Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, CCC secretary for elections Ian Makone demanded thorough investigations into the matter and to ensure that all eligible voters names reflect on the voters’ roll to enable them to vote in the August polls.

“We have noted serious anomalies in the voters roll that has been laid out for inspection by the public,” Makone said.

He said the main issues arising from the preliminary reports include missing names of prospective voters, some of whom voted in the 2018 elections, and others as recent as the March 2022 by-elections.

“For example, ward 25 in Gokwe Nembudziya constituency — all surnames starting from A to Mu are missing from the ward voters roll. Registered voters who have been appearing on the biometric voters roll online inspection platform are suddenly missing their names from the current online platforms and the voters roll under inspection seems not to be synchronised with the new delimitation boundaries. Resultantly, prospective voters have been displaced from their wards of residence,” Makone said.

Election Resource Centre (ERC) programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu said: “Two people who spoke to me from Buhera Central had their names transferred to centres that are 23km and 65km away.  The voters roll has been tampered with and cannot, therefore, be trusted to deliver a credible election in its current rushed format. A credible voters roll is just but one of the critical components of ballot eligibility.  If its integrity is highly compromised like what we are seeing now, then the election is better off shelved.”

Bobosibunu said there should be no compromise on the voters roll.

“It has remained a secret to the rest of Zimbabweans and its rotten state is now smelling.  Zimbabweans must decide if they want to continue with Zec’s dark and underhand dealings,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Zec chief elections Officer Utoile Silaigwana said: “What I want you to understand is that the purpose of the inspection of the voters roll is to check if ever there are mistakes in terms of names etc, then if there is a query then that query should be registered so that it can be corrected.”

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