INDEPENDENT election watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has outlined voter registration regulations, which would be critical in making the 2018 general elections credible.
Source: Transparency key for Zec – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 28, 2016
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Top of the list is how Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) will manage the procurement of the $50 million biometric voter registration (BVR) equipment and how the final voters’ roll will be handled.
In its position paper, which has been shared with Zec, Zesn calls for a transparent and open tendering process as a confidence building measure.
“The regulations should specify the steps for the voter registration exercise including key processes such as the biometric voter registration (BVR) equipment tendering and procurement,” part of the paper reads.
Zec chairperson, Rita Makarau has promised that once they raise the required funds, they will open a tender, which will match international standards, as they move to acquire the equipment.
Handling of the voters’ rolls was also cited as an integral part of the election, with Zesn saying it should be easily available in readable format.
“The regulations should ensure that readable, analysable and up to date election information is availed at the finest possible level of detail such as copies of voters’ rolls and election results at the polling station level.
The provision of analysable electoral information at the granular level is essential for promoting transparency and accountability,” Zesn said.
Opposition political parties have in the past have failed to access the voters’ roll even after getting court orders to be given the registry.
In 2013, opposition parties went into the elections without the voters’ roll, which later turned out to be at the centre of the electoral dispute that followed.
Other regulations, which Zesn highlighted as critical and needing clarity, include recruitment and appointment of voter registration staff, compilation and updating of a new voters’ roll.
On recruitment, which has been a thorn in the flesh of the commission, Zesn said professionalism and ethical conduct should be at the centre.
“The regulations should provide clear terms of reference, including competencies with emphasis on professional and ethical conduct of all electoral officers.”
Zesn also called on Zec to make its position clear on those who will be eligible to cast their votes in 2018 with reference being given to “alien” voters, who have been denied the right in the past elections.
“The electoral regulations should clearly specify the eligibility criteria for voters and deal with issues of ‘aliens’ and the right to vote.”