By Staff Reporter
PRESSURE group, Team Pachedu, which has been analysing the voters’ roll recently produced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for use in the March-26 by-elections, has demanded that the commission comes clean on anomalies that the electoral watchdogs have noted, which give rise to suspicions that the elections could be rigged.
In a statement on Monday, Team Pachedu said while Zec attempted to wriggle out of the rigging allegations, its explanation was unsatisfactory.
“Team Pachedu has taken note of Zec’s Press statement in ‘Response to allegations of Rigging’. We have watched the Press conference held by Zec on February 18, 2022. Unfortunately, despite issuing the Press statement and subsequently conveying a Press conference, the commission still has failed to provide satisfactory explanations for the concerns and anomalies that we raised,” the pressure group said.
It challenged Zec to explain several issues, including far-reaching changes that it allegedly made to 156 polling stations, and alteration of 170 000 voters’ addresses.
In addition, Team Pachedu also demanded to know why Zec officials had accepted registrants with unknown or unnamed residential addresses.
“The law requires each voter to have proof of residence and Zec commissioners should know better than to accept unknown addresses.”
Team Pachedu accused Zec of lacking transparency and competency, adding that accepting unnamed addresses was in violation of section 22(a) of the Electoral Act, which stipulates that a voter registration officer has the power to demand any information reasonably necessary to enable the voter registration officer to ascertain whether the claimant was eligible as a voter.
“We would like to remind Zec of its mandate to conduct free, fair and transparent elections while maintaining independence from any political party,” it said.
Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana declined to comment on the matter.
Zec has previously dismissed allegations raised by Team Pachedu saying they were meant to cause alarm and despondency.
Analysts say the alleged changes on the voters’ roll were likely to disenfranchise millions of potential voters.
Meanwhile, Zec has begun engaging churches to encourage their congregants to register to vote as the voter registration turnout has been low.