Ministry of information in charge of ZEC website, NGOs say

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THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is unable to deliver a free, fair and a credible poll due to government control of the board.

ZESN Monitoring and Observation Manager Ian Goredema told journalists on an election reporting workshop in Kwekwe recently that amongst other teething issues ZEC is not able to roll out voters’ education on time, not independent from government’s interference and coupled with poor funding mechanisms as the board is funded by foreigners.

“ZEC rarely gets on voter education on time,” said Gorerdema in his address before adding, “government interference on ZEC electoral processes is unnecessary and this in turn compromises the independence of the board.”

Goredema said ZECled by Justice priscilla Chigumba, does not have control of its information as the website is managed by government.

“ZEC is not in charge of its own website. The information is managed by the ministry of information. To post anything they need approval from the ministry. It’s not ZEC that uploads information on that site and that is one of the aspects which speaks of the so called independence of the commission,” he said.

Goredema said ZEC has not yet given any detailed explanation on how it is going to conduct the de-duplication exercise.

According to ZESN, more needs to be done by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to deliver on his promise of a free and fair plebiscite.

ZEC is not only dogged by serious underfunding but its credibility is heavily tainted by the composition of its secretariat which is made up of mostly by people with a military background.

Goredema said for the country to have a credible poll there was a need for fundamental reforms.

“There needs to be political will on fundamental reforms, which include access to the state –controlled media,” he said.

According to statistics, ZEC has so far registered 5, 43 million voters. 

The election management board has begun correcting data entry errors made by the voter registration officers on a new register.

ZEC said examples of the errors found in the data cleaning exercise include voters assigned to the wrong polling stations, duplicate IDs and typographical error compiling.

ZEC will use the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to identify multiple registrations.

Currently, the amendment on removal of duplicates has been tabled before parliament through the Electoral Amendment Bill which is still under consideration.

Goredema said the bill, amongst other issues, does not give ZEC autonomy and is still silent on the Diaspora vote.

“Elections proclamation will not happen before electoral amendments are passed into law. Electoral amendments will allow voter education to be funded by foreigners and open new funding avenues amongst other issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, Goredema said the recently held primary elections in the political parties are a reflection of how the general elections are going to be conducted.

Both the MDC and Zanu PF primaries have been marred in chaos with reports of violence and imposition of candidates.