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20/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
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THE number of registered Zimbabwean voters has dropped by about 300 000 since the last election, and authorities blame it on mortality.

Some 5, 934 768 people voted in the 2008 general polls, but Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede says that number has tumbled to slightly over 5, 5 million.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) acting chair Joice Kazembe put the total at 5, 4 million recently after a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to assess the commission's readiness for next year's vote.

Coincidentally, the 300 000 estimate is the same figure that then-ZEC chairman George Chiweshe reported in 2008 as the total of new voters who had registered for the balloting that failed to produce a clear victor.

“Voter population figure for the month of November, 2012 is 5, 589 355,” Mudede told a news conference on Thursday.

“We are working hard to update our voters’ roll on a daily basis as some people might have died. Once we get information about deceased people, we quickly clean up the voters’ roll.”

The voter register has been in a shambles for years, and civil society groups say it contains hundreds of thousands of “ghost voters.”

A forensic audit of the roll by the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) last year produced indicting results.

"The computer test revealed that 2, 344 people born between 1901 and 1909, therefore, aged between 101 and 110 years, were on the voters' roll," ZESN said in its findings.

"Nine people born between 1890 and 1900, aged between 111 and 120 years, are registered voters."

ZEC deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silayigwana revealed recently that even the late Ian Smith, former Rhodesian Prime Minister, was still listed as a voter. Smith died in 2007.

Mudede says government is doing all it can to clean up the register. He accused some civil society groups of “manufacturing counterfeit” voter registers to discredit the government.

His accusations follow the arrest of four ZimRights officials on charges of manufacturing counterfeit copies of the certificate of registration

“These counterfeits are a recipe for confusion to the voting public resulting in misinterpretation of the electoral process,” he said.

Government will begin a voter registration exercise on January 3 in preparation for elections that President Robert Mugabe says he wants in March.


But his MDC rivals and regional leaders are demanding constitutional and electoral reforms first to avert another disputed vote.

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