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Voters roll key to poll credibility: US

Local News
Deputy assistant in the Bureau of African Affairs, Robert Scott

A UNITED States government official says election management authorities should “polish” the voters roll and avail it to the public to guarantee credible polls.

Robert Scott, who is the deputy assistant in the Bureau of African Affairs, said this during a round-up Press roundtable meeting held virtually on Thursday following a two-day stakeholder engagement visit to Zimbabwe to ensure the country holds free and fair elections later this year.

Zimbabwe is heading for general elections most likely in August.

However, electoral watchdogs have raised concerns over the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to avail an auditable electronic voters roll for scrutiny.

“The consistent message that we provided to the government was that we are calling for peaceful elections. That was the issue that we raised with both the government and the opposition leaders. We call for political leaders to come out and call for peace during and after the elections,” Scott said.

“They should disavow any of their members who resort to violence instead of a peaceful exchange of ideas, transparent elections which include polishing the voters roll, accrediting long-term international and local observers and inclusive elections that include allowing the media to report freely, and the civil society organisations.”

Zec recently said it would only avail the voters roll to key stakeholders after President Emmerson Mnangagwa has proclaimed an election date.

During the visit, Scott met with various stakeholders, including government ministers, opposition and civil society leaders, journalists and representatives of various embassies.

He said the majority of the stakeholders raised concerns over the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Bill, which they said was narrowing the country’s democratic space.

The Bill now awaits Mnangagwa’s assent to become law.

“There is a general sense in the region that the PVOs Bill ... there is tightening of the political space. We have seen harassment of opposition members,” Scott said.

He also had a similar visit to Eswatini this month, where he recommended for dialogue among political players to resolve the human rights abuses in the country.

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