By Staff Reporter
A LOCAL pressure group has accused the beleaguered Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of tampering with the voters’ roll by moving 170 000 voters from their original constituencies and wards ahead of the tricky March 26 by-elections.
The move is seen as being deliberately aimed at affecting the outcome of the elections.
Activists, Team Pachedu, which has been analysing the voters roll for the by-elections in comparison with the one used in the 2018 polls, expressed concern over the anomalies, saying Zec was illegally changing electoral boundaries without notifying voters as stipulated by the law, a move which critics say would disenfranchise voters.
Team Pachedu said a total of 170 867 addresses that were in the 2018 voters roll have been edited by Zec between 2018 and 2022, with Glen View South having the highest number of edited addresses (19 758), followed by Mangwe, Lupane East, Zaka East, Luveve, Kuwadzana and Chiredzi North.
“Zec has also moved many people from Glen View South constituency to Harare South constituency. The mass movement of voters across constituencies and wards when addresses have not changed implies that Zec is illegally changing electoral boundaries,” Team Pachedu said on Twitter.
“One typical illegal movement involves hundreds of voters from Zvimba East to Glen View South (Chirangano Car Park Tent).
“For multiple voters in Chitungwiza South constituency, Zec has changed their former 2018 wards, yet their residential addresses have not changed at all. Who did Zec inform before making these sweeping changes in wards as required by the law?
“After the 2018 elections, Zec created new polling stations and some of them are 6301HRE2807 C, Glen Norah (728 voters), 6301HRE3103 C, Glenview South (671 voters), 6301HRE3202 C, Glen View South (669 voters) and 5801KWE1402 C, Kwekwe Central (669) without informing anyone as required by the law.”
But ZEC chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana said citizens or organisations affected by the changes should approach Zec district offices.
“Can we see the claims because we haven’t received any complaints to date? You are very aware that the voter registration exercise is still underway, and so we can only have the correct information when it has been completed,” Silaigwana said.
On its official Twitter handle, Zec stated: “Polling stations are allocated according to proof of residence furnished by the voter. A voter has an option to transfer his/her registration to an area of preference provided they submit the requisite documents.”
Zimbabwe Election Support Network board chairperson Andrew Makoni said the trends were worrying as it could disenfranchise voters.
“Yes, it disfranchises voters as many will fail to vote because their wards have changed. Only Zec can provide the reasons why some voters may have been moved from one constituency to the other, and in this case from Glen View to Harare South as alleged.
“However, it is possible for a voter to change his ward or constituency if, for example, they migrate from one ward or constituency. In that case, it is the voter who approaches Zec seeking a transfer. Zec cannot do so on its own.”
Elections Resource Centre programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu said: “We are in the process of analysing the voters roll and will shortly be able to comment on the alleged movement.
“On the overall, registered voters cannot be changed without their consent. There must be an explanation as to why those changes were effected without the knowledge of the voters. If these are true, they damage the credibility of the voters roll and ultimately the outcome of the election.”
Citizens Coalition for Change treasurer-general David Coltart said the anomalies in the voters roll were not surprising as it was clear that it was creating a pathway for rigging of elections.
He said there was need for Zec to be independent and free from the ruling Zanu PF party and military control such that it retains the ability to carry out its electoral mandate as a national body.
“I am not surprised. The reason Zanu PF was happy to have by-elections now was because it knows the results are easier to manipulate. Through its proxies in Zec, they can manipulate the voters roll to ‘import’ voters from constituencies which do not have an election to those which do,” Coltart said.
“On election day, it is easy to bus those voters in because there won’t be observers. So if discrepancies are found, it will be part of this grand scheme to subvert the will of the electorate in the coming by-elections.”