ZIMBABWEAN opposition parties and civic groups have warned that unless the voters’ roll is reviewed by an independent body, the credibility of the March general elections could be called in
The voters’ roll was opened for inspection on Monday until January 30.
Zimbabwe has 5 658 637 eligible voters, according to the registrar-general’s office.
In an interview with Irin, Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the pro-democracy NGO, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), contended that the roll would be no different from the one used in the 2002 presidential elections, which were condemned as flawed by most western observers.
“The roll is in shambles: over the years the registrar-general’s office has added more names but not totally reformed the roll … We have had cases of deceased people appearing on the roll; people being registered in the wrong constituencies; or others simply failing to find their names,” said Madhuku.
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede announced that his department would prepare the roll according to the new constituency boundaries drawn up by the Delimitation Commission.
However, Madhuku alleged that it was impossible for the authorities to compile an accurate roll in time because of the lack of resources and in the absence of an independent electoral body, the authorities could manipulate the voting process.
“We could have hoped for a credible roll if the proposed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had been appointed … Even if the ZEC were to be appointed, I don’t think there would be any changes, since its head will be a presidential, and therefore partial, appointee,” said Madhuku.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has threatened to boycott the elections unless government agrees to reform of the electoral process in accordance with the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) guidelines, which include the appointment of an independent electoral commission.
The MDC is also demanding the repeal of a raft of laws affecting the media, NGOs and public security, which it views as an infringement of Zimbabweans’ democratic rights.
Mudede has defended his department, saying: “Those questioning the accuracy of the roll are free to go and inspect it, with the rest of the country, during the inspection period.”
He added that: “The (registrar-general’s) office has a mandate to conduct elections, and will do so until such a time that the new electoral commission is appointed. I cannot comment on statements alleging irregularities,
because we have not gone through the inspection process as yet.”
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has weighed into the debate on the fairness of upcoming poll.
“We have been concerned about several things (in Zimbabwe),” ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe told a media briefing after the annual meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee at the weekend.
“The fact that the opposition MDC is a properly registered political party, but it still requires police permission to hold its meetings …impairs its ability to interact with its constituency — it’s an anomaly. –Irin.