ZANU PF could in fact be preparing a biometric voters’ roll ahead of next year’s general elections under the guise of its nationwide membership verification exercise where party officials have embarked on a door-to-door recruitment and intimidation drive, recording the identification particulars and other biometric details of adults in rural and farming areas.
By Owen Gagare
A senior security official familiar with Zanu PF’s operational style ahead of elections told the Independent the party was likely to use its influence to impose the data on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), giving Zanu PF a head start when the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise begins.
Under the massive campaign, which involves coercion, intimidation and vote buying, Zanu PF is seeking to register about three million voters mostly in its strongholds.
The teams are taking passport size pictures as well as fingerprints of party supporters and those coerced into joining the party. Members are then given an electronic membership card which can be scanned to reflect the complete bio-data of the owner.
The teams are working with village heads to form structures from cell level. In some cases, those without identification particulars are being given ultimatums to acquire the documents to enable them to register for voting.
Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere last week confirmed his party was on a recruitment drive, which also involves the capturing of biographical data. He, however, denied Zanu PF teams were intimidating people.
“We rolled out our membership drive in 2014 and we are doing digital data capturing. No one is intimidating people as you are saying. As Zanu PF we want our members to have identification cards and we have put in place mechanisms which help them get those IDs,” he said.
A senior security official however said the Zanu PF was creating a voters roll.
“I can assure you this is not an ordinary membership verification exercise. Zanu PF is actually registering its members and compiling a biometric voters’ roll which will be imposed on ZEC,” he said.
“Don’t be shocked that when the registration exercise is opened for everyone after ZEC gets its technology in order, there will be teething problems with the exercise especially in opposition strongholds. Zanu PF though, will be having a clear advantage which can make a huge difference.”
Electoral Resource Centre director Tawanda Chiminhi said Zanu PF was within its mandate to mobilise its supporters, collect their details and compile a register as long as tactics used are within the law.
He however said there was a genuine risk that the system could be abused.
“…A weak legislative framework of elections that comprises of an Electoral Act that is not fully aligned with the Constitution compromises the independence of ZEC which can easily be directed and influenced by the executive. In the absence of full alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution and the maintenance of provisions that give executive authority over the independent election commission, there exists a real possibility that one political party which controls the executive, could impose their whims to influence voter registration,” said Chimhini.
“Secondly with a weak administrative framework of voter registration with undefined rules for voter registration, limited transparency on pre-registration processes, an election management body that is financially crippled and dependent on the executive for support and controlled stakeholder access to strategic spaces of the voter registration processes such as the back, there exist real opportunities for manipulation and fraud.”
Chimhini said although BVR was a step in the right direction, it faces threats going forward unless Zec asserts its indepence elected in the administration of electoral process.