IT is shocking and nauseating to learn that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has not released the voters' roll for the December 9 by-elections to the candidates running for office.
According to reports, opposition candidate Febion Kufahakutizwi of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) for the Mabvuku-Tafara Constituency has taken Zec to court to obtain an order compelling the electoral body to release the voters' roll prior to the by-elections.
As mandated by the Electoral Act, Zec must provide copies of the roll to candidates as soon as their candidacies are confirmed.
Kufahakutizwi, who is being represented by Obey Shava of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, stated in his founding affidavit that he had written to Zec on several occasions demanding the release of the voters' roll to no avail.
Concerns have been raised by opposition political parties, election observers, and other interested parties regarding Zec's inability to deliver the voters' roll upon request.
During the March by-elections last year, opposition candidates were unable to obtain the voters' roll, while their Zanu PF counterparts managed to.
In the run up to the August 23 elections, CCC candidates also took Zec to court demanding the release of the voters' roll.
Seven days before the general election, the opposition complained that it had not yet been furnished with the voters' roll.
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It is quite regrettable that Zec has made it common practice to withhold the voters' roll from opposition parties and candidates.
The failure to release the voters' roll adds to contestations. To prevent such, the commission needs to make the voters' roll available. For crying out loud, why is it so hard for Zec to do the correct thing? Why does it have a constant desire to break the law?
The commission must be aware of how much contested elections are costing the nation. When elections are disputed, they can become a flashpoint for violence. Additionally, it erodes public confidence in the democratic process, which is not good for the nation's democracy in future.
We beg the commission to travel to Malawi, Zambia, Liberia, South Africa, and other countries to observe how elections are conducted. Those nations' electoral commissioners are professional at what they do. They are competent, independent, and patriotic.
It is neither professional nor patriotic to deliver the voters' roll to Zanu PF candidates only while denying it to other contenders. It is ridiculous and inept.
We just cannot afford to keep having disputes over elections in the nation simply because Zec is not doing its job.
For starters, Zec is a constitutional organisation, not a branch of Zanu PF.
Rather than continuing to tarnish the nation's reputation, the Zec commissioners should just step down if they are unable to carry out the job. It is as simple as that.