The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s reluctance to provide a date for when the electronic voters roll will be available worries pill watchdog Election Resource Centre (ERC).
Last month ERC through their lawyer issued the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) a seven day ultimatum to furnish them with the electronic copy of the voters.
The demand came after ERC requested for the electronic copy of the voters rolls which the commission is using for the delimitation exercise.
ERC requested for the voters roll in July after ZEC had closed off the voters roll fir the delimitation exercise but ZEC failed to supply the electronic copy.
However, the hard copy of the voters roll is available for US$1 per page translating to US$187 000 for the entire copy which is out of reach for many, while the currently unavailable electronic copy is pegged at US$200.
Response To Ultimatum
In response to the ultimatum given by ERC, ZEC informed the election watchdog that commission inform the watchdog once it was available.
In an interview with Open Parly the ERC Executive director Babra Ontibile Bhebe said ZEC told them that they are open to dialogue but encouraged them to be patient.
“The Commission stated that it is not averse to engaging or dialoguing with the ERC but requested the organization to be patient until the completion of the delimitation of electoral boundaries exercises due year-end,” said Bhebhe.
However, this position did not go down well with the ERC that insists unavailability of the voters roll compromises credibility of the delimitation exercise and political rights of citizens.
“To the extent that people cannot have access to the voters roll to be used for the delimitation of constituencies, they lack the ability to participate meaningfully in the process and hold the Commission to account for whatever outcomes of that process.
“Without a national voters roll publicly accessible at reasonable cost it is impossible to know if the boundaries created by the process have followed the law and if indeed votes are equal,” Bhebhe said.
Accessibility of an auditable voters roll has been a topical issue in Zimbabwe in numerous election cycles. Opposition parties and Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) are on record demanding for an auditable voters roll maintaining that access to it would enhance credibility of the election.
In this case, access to the voters roll would enhance credibility to delimitation exercise.
Additionally, Bhebhe maintained that ZEC is compelled by the constitution to be transparent.
“Transparency of the elections which is required of the Commission by section 156 of the constitution can only be assessed if people and electoral watchdogs like the ERC audit the voters roll and determine its integrity.
“After all a voters roll determines who or who doesn’t vote. To that end it is the most important aspect of a free, fair and credible election,” added Bhebhe.