STAFF WRITER 16 March 2017
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s election watchdogs have said fears that the bio-metric
voter registration (BVR) and electronic voting system were vulnerable to
computer hacking were unfounded.
This comes after State media has hazarded that e-voting was vulnerable to
hacking, costly and was not a means to an end.
There is also confusion whether BVR together with e-voting will both be
In an address to the National Assembly on February 22, Vice President
Emmerson Mnangagwa said the bio-metric system will be used during both
registration and the actual voting process.
“We never said it would not go full throttle. We agreed that the
bio-metric system would be used in coming up with a voters’ roll up until
the actual voting,” Mnangagwa said.
The largest independent observer group Zimbabwe Election Support (Zesn)
said there is need to ensure that there is no executive interference in
the electoral processes.
The leading domestic monitoring body said its understanding was that the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) intends to use the technology solely
for the purposes of capturing bio-metric features such as fingerprints
during voter registration in order to create a new voters’ roll for the
2018 harmonised elections and not for e-voting.
“Thus, Zesn believes that the fears of technology failure are unfounded
given that the technology will only be used for registering voters,” Zesn
leader Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said.
“On election day, voters will still be required to present their
identification documents and be issued with a paper ballot paper and not
“Hence, it is important to note that there will be no technology failure
on election day as Zec will issue printed copies of the voters’ roll at
polling stations,” it said, adding it was “imperative for Zec to clarify
the issue of the BVR viz-a-viz e-voting.”
Election Resource Centre (ERC) said everything else except the capturing
of bio-metric features remains manual in the case of Zimbabwe and
difficult to hack.
“What can be hacked in BVR; can also be the same under a manual process
whose versions are kept as electronic as demanded by the Electoral Act,”
ERC said in a statement yesterday. The poll watchdog also rejected claims
that BVR is more expensive, saying voter registration in 2013 cost $15,8
million out of a requested $25 million.
“Important to note is the fact that infrastructure for voter registration
was already in place at the Registrar General, it was extension of voter
registration as compared to new voter registration, and the result was a
disputed voters’ roll.
“Zec has requested $29 million for BVR, including procurement of the kits.
A new voter registration process, a new infrastructure, and a
de-duplication process are new features. Certainly, this is not more
expensive. The ERC contends that a manual process would be more
expensive,” it said.