By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent
ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chief Elections Officer Utoile Silaigwana has told parliament that there has been over a hundred failed attempts to hack into its voters roll server, a day after reporting online pressure group Team Pachedu for illegally ‘mining data from it.’
Silaigwana was speaking during a post-budget consultative meeting with parastatals on Wednesday, where he also insisted that Team Pachedu did not have a copy of the voters roll as has been claimed and publicised by the group.
Team Pachedu, which calls itself a group of patriotic Zimbabweans cleaning up the country’s electoral system, has been dissecting ZEC’s voters roll over the past year, picking out what it claims are “deliberate errors” that might aid rigging next year’s polls for ruling Zanu PF.
“The animal that we have which is called social media can disorient us. Yes, indeed honourable chair and honourable members, there have been about a hundred attempts at hacking the ZEC server which hosts the voters roll, but they have never broken into it,” said Silaigwana.
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“Our website system is separate from that which hosts the voters roll. There are attempts to hack and every time we try to galvanise and enhance our security system.
“The Pachedu group has made several attempts but failed. They have maliciously spread a lot of false information which then, in the public, eye makes ZEC look as if it is highly vulnerable.
“It is a silly manoeuvre to destabilise ZEC. This is an attempt, if you try to rape you are charged for a crime; they are attempting to rape ZEC, it is an offence and that is why we have reported them.”
According to ZEC Spokesperson Jasper Mangwana, Team Pachedu has been reported for ‘hacktivism, impersonation, unauthorised data mining and cyberterrorism or bullying’ at Harare Central Police Station under RRB number IR111760.
The grouping’s work last year resulted in some employees being fired, suspended while others were transferred after questions arose as to how it was getting top secret information from within the commission.
Its more recent revelations include the creation of over 16,000 double voters in Gokwe-Chireya and Gokwe-Nembudziya constituencies by ZEC and Zanu PF influence in crafting of relevant laws such as the Electoral Amendment Bill.
Said Team Pachedu on November 20, following allegations of hacking the ZEC and Judicial Services Commission Website: “There is a lot of rich intel on government servers that is publicly accessible.
ZEC tried to accuse us of hacking, but we proved how public and insecure their servers had always been. We also proved this on Postal Telecommunications Regulations Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and JSC.Journalists should take over, while we focus on ZEC.”