Zec must allow external verification of electoral rolls

THE proposal by the electoral watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) under fire from critics, to consider hiring independent auditors to examine the voter lists in order to restore the confidence in the electoral process, is noble and worth considering.

The electoral body has recently come under fire for several irregularities noted in its latest voter list by opposition political parties and militant groups such as Team Pachedu.

Some of the discrepancies uncovered by activist groups include changes to 156 polling stations, the movement of 177,000 voters and the registration of voters with unknown or unnamed residential addresses.

In order to restore public confidence in the electoral process, Zesn advised the electoral administrator to authorize independent and reputable auditing companies to query the voter lists.

“Zesn reiterates its call for Zec to consider independent audits of the voters list by reputable auditing firms as a means of building trust in the voters list. Zesn further urges Zec to make the voters list available to other key electoral actors who may have an interest in analyzing and triangulating the information as well,” Zesn said.

We couldn’t agree with Zesn more, especially as we approach harmonized watershed surveys next year. There is a need to have a voters list that engenders trust in all stakeholders involved in electoral processes and reduces allegations of tampering with the voters list by Zec. An independent audit will allow Zec to regain credibility undermined by various glaring discrepancies on the electoral lists. It is sad that the Zec has become a laughing stock as a result of elementary errors that have no place in the electoral process.

Just recently, the electoral body admitted that it had deprived thousands of potential new voters of the opportunity to participate in the upcoming by-elections after failing to provide adequate and accessible registration centers across the country.

The electoral body has been in the eye of a storm in recent weeks after giving two different numbers of new voters it registered last year.

Initially he said only 2,000 had been registered as voters for the first time throughout the year, but later revised the figure to 2,951.

Zec courted the wrath of civic groups after initially saying 22,000 deceased voters would be removed from voter rolls, before bumping the figure up to 35,085.

Such embarrassing gaffes do not bode well for free and fair elections. An independent audit as proposed by Zesn will go a long way in restoring much-needed trust to Zec.

Shirlene J. Manley