NERA proposes safeguard measures to secure Diaspora vote | #Ivote4PeaceZW

By Nkanyiso Ncube

National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) has proposed safeguards measures to be put in place to secure Diaspora votes and ensure no rigging takes place ahead of 2018 elections.

In a statement, NERA said it had came up with pointers to be taken into consideration ahead of 2018 elections.

“NERA supports the right to vote for the Diaspora however we must ensure that the same safe guards we are demanding for elections conducted in Zimbabwe are also implemented for elections that may take place in the Diaspora for Zimbabwean Citizens. Without these Safe guards ZANU PF will rig the Diaspora Vote,” read part of the statement.

Zimbabweans in the Diaspora has been calling for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to allow them to vote in their respective countries.

However, last year the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that it does not have resources to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote during the upcoming 2018 elections.

Despite thwarting hopes for Diasporas to vote next year, ZEC also ruled out biometric voting or any form of electronic voting and that the Biometric system being put in place is strictly for registration.

Biometric voter registration (BVR) is expected to start in March 2017. It will capture voters’ unique biometric features, specifically fingerprints and facial imaging which will be recorded in a database.

When voters check in at their respective polling stations (which will be the same stations they register at) in 2018 these same features will be used to verify if they are part of the voters roll, thereby eliminating ghost voters and increasing the voters’ roll’s accuracy.

The biometric registration (BVR) system is being sourced from independent distributors and so far the government has received bids from 12 companies which reportedly include local telecoms provider Africom and Nikuv, the controversial Israeli technology firm which specialises in ID and population registration technology.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is funding the procurement of the Biometric Voters Registration system.

Here are some of the safeguard measures proposed by NERA:

  1. Elections must be held in a Neutral location. Zimbabwean Embassies in the Diaspora are not Neutral locations as they are controlled by ZANU PF
    2. The Voter’s Roll Must be made public to allow proper verification of all listed voters (In the past names of dead people have appeared on the Voter’s Roll.
    3. Independent Observers and Monitors must be at every polling station
    4. Independent and Neutral Accredited Monitors must be there ensuring the safety of all ballots from the polling station to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission destination point and until ballots have been certified and counted
    5. Independent Biometric Technical Support must be used to verify and check authenticity of the Biometric Registration System
    6. The Polling Mapping process must conducted and polling station verified prior to voting
    7. Neutral Security Personal must be used for every polling station.
    8. Independent accredited personal must be utilized for vote counting and Vote certification.
    9. Enough time and Programs must be made available that Diaspora Voter Education and Voter Registration programs are conducted
    10. The number of extra Ballot papers must be verified before voting begins.
    11. All voters requiring assistance must declare their need for voter assistance at the point of registration to ensure neutral personal are utilized to assist the voters
    12. All Diasporans fighting for the Diaspora Vote must do their due diligence to ensure they demand safe guards to be in place to ensure rigging is eliminated or minimized.
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