THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it cannot guarantee that the voters’ roll will be free of names of dead people before next year’s general elections.
Zimbabwe’s voters’ roll has been condemned by election monitors and opposition parties for not being updated.
ZEC deputy chair Joyce Kazembe says because a record of deaths and births is still not fully computerised, it is impossible to maintain a credible voters’ roll.
“It’s true; our voters’ roll contains names of thousands of dead people. This is because legally, the Registrar General’s office removes such people only when there is documentary evidencing confirming that so and so is dead,” Kazembe told a conference of Christian students in Harare on Tuesday.
“This is not happening, especially in the country’s rural settings. So you will find we have 109 year-olds in the voters’ roll, zvakaoma nhai. You hear of people living that long in the Guinness Book of Records, but this is what you see in our voters’ roll.”
Kazembe insists that the lack of a computerised record of dead people means updating the voters’ roll will remain a manual process for a long time.
“The registrar general can only act when relatives of the deceased bring documentary evidence to that effect,” she added.
Last year, the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said that the anomalies opened the way for “double voting and other rigging intentions”.
In its research, the group found some 2,344 voters between the ages of 101 and 110 still on the voting rolls, despite the fact the average life expectancy in the country is just 44.
The report also found that more than 500 dead voters had all been given the same birth date - January 1, 1901.
“An accurate, credible voters' register is a prerequisite for free and fair elections,” ZESN added.
Cleaning up the voters roll is one of the electoral reforms Zimbabwe’s ruling coalition parties said must be completed before the country holds elections, which President Robert Mugabe says could be held as early as March.