by Buhle Tshavango
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) reports that only 8% of voters in the 2013 Presidential election inspected the voters roll. Voter duplication and names of the deceased surfacing on election day has created mistrust such that even the introduction of the biometric voter-registration system is shrouded with scepticism.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently finalised the 2018 elections roadmap and between April and December 2017 are expected to polish the existing voters’ roll and demarcate maps for the various polling stations.
The roadmap details are however yet to be shared with other stakeholders including the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, a move which has led to questioning on issues of transparency and accountability.
The secrecy around the roadmap delays time with which other stakeholders can familiarise themselves with the processes which will take place and make necessary preparations. Voters will also need time to familiarise themselves with what is expected of them whilst political parties also need to be engaged as they prepare their strategies.
Delays over the release of the already finalised election roadmap raises suspicion over ZEC’s credibility which already thin further demoralises other stakeholders.
In the 2017 National budget, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa did not allocate the Zimbabwe Electoral commission any funding for the biometric voter registration process where $29 million was required for the biometric kits only, the underfunding of this commission has also contributed to its poor performance, which has led to its unpopularity.
Voter confidence in the biometric kits will have to be motivated by more voter education on how they function and whether or not they are fool proof during the capturing of biometric data.
Publishing the 2018 elections roadmap will help ZEC improve its credibility and will also motivate voters. Early preparations for the elections are vital and sharing of the roadmap with other stakeholders will allow a concerted effort in engaging Parliament to push for more election resources as the National budget is still being debated. Adequate resourcing plays a role in ensuring a smooth flowing electoral process.
Commenting on the secrecy surrounding the 2018 election roadmap , the ZESN said there is need for sharing of the roadmap for adequate voter education and information for the voter registration exercise.
“ZEC should shed more light on the details of the roadmap, the actual process that will be taking place at each stage to enable preparations , they should engage with stakeholders to ensure that the process is clearly understood and that citizens get correct information and voter education”.
As it stands, we just have claims of readiness and no actual documentation of how ready we are or laid down processes to the 2018 election.