‘Voters roll mess to affect 1,8m people’

Source: ‘Voters roll mess to affect 1,8m people’ -Newsday Zimbabwe

CCC cited Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana as the respondents.

THE Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) says it has unearthed serious irregularities in the voters roll, which could result in about 1,8 million failing to vote in Wednesday elections.

The revelations, contained in the party’s heads of argument filed in the Electoral Court yesterday, will bring the spotlight on next week’s elections.

“At least 2 150 polling stations in the voters roll do not match the names of the polling station published by Zec [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] affecting approximately 1,8 million voters,” CCC said.

It said about 873 polling stations have been added since the voters roll was provided by Zec and at least one ward had been moved from one constituency to another.

The party made the claims in their application seeking an order to compel Zec to release the voters roll.

CCC cited Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana as the respondents.

The party argued that the respondents had not complied with peremptory provisions of the Electoral Act necessary for the holding of credible, free and fair elections.

According to the Electoral Act, Zec should have furnished all the political parties and candidates with an updated voters roll.

“They furnished what they said was the voters roll, but which is not the voters roll that will be used in the election as required by law. Zec subsequently published a list of polling stations which will be used in the election. This list of polling stations demonstrates, without doubt, that the voters roll provided to the applicants is not the voters roll which will be used in the election,” they submitted.

“The polling station names in the voters roll do not match the polling stations which will be used on election day.

“The number of polling stations in the voters roll do not match the number of polling stations which will be used on election day. The ward and constituency boundaries in the voters roll do not match the ward and constituency boundaries that will be used on election day.

“Thus, need to act clearly arose on August 8, 2023 when a final list of polling stations was furnished, which showed that there were changes to the voters roll.”

The party also discovered that Zec has added some voters to the voters roll.

It said Zec had not disclosed how many voters have been added or to which polling stations.

“It is essential for exercise of the applicants right to information to effectively participate in the election as enshrined in section 155(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that they be provided with voters roll which matches, in every way, the voters roll which will be used on election day and all essential information about polling stations,” the opposition argued.

“The failure to provide the applicants with a polling station-based voters roll for every polling station that will be used in the election puts in jeopardy the credibility, verifiability and legality of the election. This court must, therefore, intervene and grant this application to compel the respondents to do so.”

In their defence, the respondents said the distribution of polling stations has always been the discretion of the commission as part of its administrative duties.

“It is only where the exercise of such administrative functions is said to violate a specific provision of the law that the court can intervene and direct the commission on how to do its work.

“In the present instance, the applicants premise their case on the provisions of s21 of the Electoral Act. They take it for granted that under that provision, every voters roll must, by dictate of the law, indicate the polling stations to be used in an election.

“They do not, however, advert to the provisions of s20(2) of the Electoral Act which makes no such stipulations, viz the peremptory contents of a voters roll,” the respondents argued.

They argued that the commission, in the discharge of its administrative functions, had not violated any laws and, as such, could not be directed by the court.

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