ZANU PF and the two MDC formations are involved in an intense battle over control of the voters’ roll ahead of crucial general elections this year amid revelations that even Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone’s name did not appear on the register as of April 15.
Report by Owen Gagare
Makone is leading the fight to ensure the voters’ roll is cleaned up before the polls and to ensure the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office registers all potential voters. The RG’s Office falls under the Home Affairs ministry and is also the custodian of the voters’ roll.
The RG is responsible for registering voters and issuing national identity documents, which are required for one to register as a voter as well as to vote, but the department has been slammed for failing to discharge its duties competently.
Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll has been in shambles for a long time and parties in the inclusive government agreed to compile a new register during the Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiations, but this has not been done.
However, all parties have placed the voters’ roll under close scrutiny ahead of the polls resulting in them conducting ward-based verifications of the register to analyse registration trends, while also checking if their supporters are on the roll.
The verification process has resulted in shocking revelations. For example, Makone, who has voted in all elections since 1980, discovered to her shock she had been struck off the roll in her ward.
A check of the voters’ roll for Harare’s Ward 18 in the Harare North constituency on April 15 by MDC-T officials showed Makone, who is also MP for the area, was not on the register containing 8 305 people.
After Makone’s party aide, who is from the same ward and was also missing from the voters’ roll, complained about the anomaly, their names re-appeared on the register on April 17 while the number of registered voters had in 24 hours jumped to 10 076 people.
Makone’s middle name Maonei was however mispelt “Maoneyi” when she was restored on the register.
In ward 42, which is also in Harare North, the voters’ roll had 5 196 people on April 15, but the number had more than trebled in two days to 17 068 on April 17. The addition of 11 872 in just two days raised eyebrows and allegations of tampering with the voters’ register.
Makone this week confirmed the anomalies and said the realisation was shocking given that the RG’s Office has her records as she often renews her passport and has been on the voters’ roll since 1985, although she voted using her identity card in the 1980 polls.
Makone also said she changed her middle name from Maoneyi to Maonei 10 years ago, and this was reflected in the previous voters’ roll as well as her ID and passport, but was surprised that the RG’s department had retained her old name when it restored her name on the voters’ roll.
Zanu PF has also been conducting its own verification exercise and is accusing MDC-T of manipulating the voters’ roll. The party’s secretary for security Sydney Sekeramayi on Monday complained to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) that in Marondera 60 people were registered under Mahachi Building while 200 people were registered under Goromonzi Secondary School.
In recent weeks, cabinet has been forced to tackle bureaucratic bungling and systematic disenfranchisement of potential voters by the RG’s Office countrywide following an outcry from members of the public who were finding it difficult to register.
Ironically, thousands of people, mainly from the country’s uniformed forces and members of some apostolic church sects as well as people bused in to registry points by Zanu PF officials, have been easily registering.