Speed up biometric voter registration

Source: Speed up biometric voter registration – DailyNews Live January 14, 2017

Jeffrey Muvundusi

BULAWAYO – The delay in the commencement of biometric voter registration
is likely to compromise the quality and integrity of the new voters’ roll,
a consortium of organisations running a new campaign, iVote2018, has said.

As the country prepares for the new polling station-based and biometric
voter registration for the 2018 harmonised elections, it is imperative for
the government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to speed up the

“Regional, continental and international best practices have shown that
successful introduction of electoral technology requires at least 24
months before the date of elections,” Liberty Bhebhe, spokesperson of the
consortium, said.

“It is hence worrying that the commission is unclear about the start and
end-dates for the voter registration process, with barely 18 months
remaining before the next elections.

“The remaining timeframe indicates that Zimbabwe has entered the red zone
if the notion to use electoral technology in compiling a fresh voters’
roll is pursued

“It is important that the pre-requisites for such are met in order for the
development not to compromise the integrity of the electoral process and

Zimbabwe is hoping thumb print scans and voter cards with electronic bar
codes will enable it to accurately register an estimated five million
voters and eliminate the kind of fraud that has undermined previous

An electoral roll riddled with fictitious names and omitting legitimate
voters, combined with ballot-stuffing and intimidation, marred previous
elections so badly that observers deemed them not to have been credible.

A tender for electronic voter registration kits – laptop computers, finger
print scanners, cameras and printers – has been floated over the past

Zec chairperson Rita Makarau has said the delimitation exercise, a process
of country wide polling station catchment area mapping, has been done.

“Mapping was done to lay groundwork for the polling station-specific voter
registration in preparation for the 2018 harmonised elections,” Makarau
told journalists recently.

“The mapping exercise entailed drawing and describing polling station

“Each polling station would be allocated a maximum of 1 500 voters.

“The form of registration and polling was in line with the international
best practices.

“It was anticipated that the exercise was to be completed before end of
year though the exercise was being hampered by inaccessibility of other
areas due to rains.

“Provincial election officers and district election officers would
physically verify the demarcated polling areas.”

The consortium called on Zec to restore long lost trust between itself and

“In contexts such as Zimbabwe, where there is limited trust between the
commission, the electorate, and opposition political parties, it is
important that trust be restored trough ensuring transparency within the
entire process,” Bhebhe said.

Makarau has said her organisation is engaging all stakeholders to iron out
the issue of mistrust.

“Zec had always been neutral and would always conduct free and fair

“Zec was, however, haunted by lack of trust, which it was currently
addressing through stakeholder engagements,” she said.

Makarau also blamed the media for fuelling the doubt.

“Zec faced challenges of a polarised media which fuelled electoral
disputes through misinformation.

“To ensure that disputes were reduced, Zec conducted stakeholder

Bhebhe said it was important that citizen participation in the design and
implementation of the process is upheld and extensive civic and voter
education be implemented under a framework that allows civil society
organisations to play a central role.