Zec bias accusations ‘highly regrettable’

HARARE – Our deputy chief writer Tendai Kamhungira talks to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau (pictured). Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: May you clarify the requirements for one to register to vote?

A: For one to register to vote one must be a citizen of Zimbabwe; of or above 18 years; produce proof of identity in any of the following forms: National Identity Card — metal, plastic or waiting pass with holder’s picture or a valid Zimbabwean passport.

Q: What about the issue of proof of residence for prospective voters?

A: Prospective voters must produce proof of residence.

Q: Pro-democracy campaigners say Section 36 A of the Electoral Act prescribes that until the president proclaims you can go ahead and start the creation of a new voters’ roll, the current process is unlawful, how far true is this assertion?

A: The assertion is false. What the law requires is that before the commencement of the voter registration exercise, there should be a proclamation calling for a new registration of voters. It is anticipated that the president will issue the proclamation at the appropriate time.

Q: There are also claims that Zec wants to float another tender for BVR kits, how far true is this claim?

A: This is false. What Zec intends to procure is the automated fingerprint identification system — the Afis software — which is a software that will assist Zec to detect multiple registrations.

Q: May you clarify on what this system is all about?

A: This system will only be used when the entire data of registered voters has been collected from all the 10 provinces.

Q: How will Zec curtail the issue of double voting?

A: Polling in 2018 is going to be polling-station based. This means that a voter will only be registered for one particular polling station and his or her name will appear on the voters’ roll for that particular polling station unlike with ward-based polling where a voter’s name would appear at all the polling stations within that ward.

In addition, a voter’s name will be crossed out from the voters’ roll and his or her finger marked with indelible ink as has been the practice.

Q: Is there going to be a new voters’ roll and in what form will it be?

A: Yes, there will be a new voters’ roll which will be available in soft and hard copy in terms of the law.

Q: Are all political parties able to access this voters’ roll and if so, what is the process involved?

A: The voters’ roll is a public document and once compiled, it is open for inspection to the public and not just to political parties.

Political parties will be free to request for a copy of the roll either in printed or electronic copy and the commission will avail it to them on the payment of a prescribed fee.

Further, once a person has been nominated for election, the commission is mandated to provide to every nominated candidate an electronic copy of the voters’ roll for the constituency for which such person has been nominated and this will be made available accordingly.

Q: There are concerns over the storage of biometric data, how is this information going to be stored and transported?

A: The specific details on storage and transportation of data are of a security nature, the details of which cannot be divulged in public forums.

Q: How secure is the transportation and storage system?

A: Zec has made the transportation and storage systems as secure as possible with the assistance of experts from its co-operating partners.

Q: Can you clarify how people will register to vote vis-à-vis how they would vote on polling day?

Q: For voter registration, a person will be able to register from any registration centre in the country provided they have the requisite documentation.

Regarding voting, on the other hand, a person will only be able to vote at the polling station that was assigned to them on registration day.

Q: There have been calls for supervision of the elections by the international community, including the United Nations, is there anything that you are doing as Zec to achieve that?

Q: This is not part of Zec’s mandate. Zec expects interested parties to take all the necessary and appropriate steps to achieve what they desire.

Q: The opposition has been calling for the disbanding of Zec on allegations that it has no capacity to hold credible elections, what is your comment to this assertion?

A: Zec considers such assertions highly regrettable.

Q: How far has Zec gone in informing the electorate on how the BVR system works?

A: Zec will embark on an intensive public outreach and awareness campaign to educate the electorate on how the BVR system will work and to demystify any myths around the process.

Q: Opposition political parties have been calling for electoral reforms, does this fall under your domain?

A: Legislative reforms are strictly within Parliament’s domain but Zec can make recommendations for reform.

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