MP sues Zec over voters roll


HARARE North legislator Allan Markham (CCC) has filed a High Court challenge against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) seeking to compel it to provide the national voters roll in electronic format.

Zec has been refusing to release the electronic voters roll saying that would compromise the security of its database.

Recently, Zec demanded a staggering US$187 000 from a local independent election watchdog for the release of a hard copy of the voters roll.

In an application filed at the High Court yesterday, Markham cited Zec as respondent.

In his founding affidavit, Markham said during the period February to April 2022, he analysed an electronic copy of the voters roll prepared and released by Zec before the by-elections that took place in March 2022 and noticed several anomalies.

This prompted him to write to Zec drawing its attention to various anomalies on the voters roll, and was advised that the electoral body was in the process of producing an updated version.

 “The electronic form is portable and can be analysed with relative ease, while a hard copy of the national voters roll will be cumbersome to hold (one hundred and eighty-seven thousand pages) and practically impossible to analyse.  In addition, it takes 30 days to print a copy of the hard copy before an applicant who has complied with all the conditions set by the respondent can have it. The choice, therefore, to procure an electronic copy is both borne out of its being more affordable and easier to obtain and analyse,” Markham said.

He said the voters roll was the first port of call for all citizens who needed to understand the composition of the electorate and know how many people are registered, and where they are so registered.

 “The review of the voters roll also allows citizens to appreciate if any registration potentially violates the principle of one-man one-vote, that is double or duplicate registration. It tells you in combination with other information, such as a census, the general information as to what percentage of eligible people remain unregistered, allows efforts to establish why and how their registration can be facilitated, an important part of the exercise of any citizen's political rights.”

He said access to the voters roll allowed citizens to exercise their political rights in terms of the Constitution.

 “In order to meaningfully participate in the delimitation exercise, one needs to know the voters roll and where everyone is registered by polling station. Stakeholders cannot be consulted on delimitation if they have no access to a searchable copy of the voters roll so that they can check numbers per polling station and boundaries.

“So the respondent is conducting the delimitation exercise on its own "consulting" with stakeholders who have not seen or accessed the voters roll yet. Put differently, the respondent is purportedly consulting with stakeholders and effecting changes when stakeholders do not have the voters roll. This is meaningless,” Markham said.

He said once a citizen has communicated to Zec and paid the prescribed fee, the electoral management body is obliged to produce the electronic voters roll.

Zec is yet to respond.

Related Topics