By Daniel Chigundu
NATIONAL Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) says it is worried by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) reluctance to reveal information on the location of BVR servers.
BVR Servers are expected among other things to house such information as actual voter data collected from the impending voter registration exercise.
Zimbabwe is working on compiling a fresh voters’ roll using the BVR kits that will be acquired from a Chinese firm called Laxton Group Limited which won the tender ahead of Dermalog Identification Systems.
In statement, NERA said they are concerned that ZEC is refusing to disclose important information to stakeholders, especially on the security and location of voter data.
“ZEC has not clearly articulated where BVR machines will be housed and security for BVR kits.
“The Custodian of the Servers. It also remains very unclear where the actual BVR servers will come from and how they will be maintained. The servers will contain the actual voter data. It is still very unclear to stakeholders how and where ZEC intends to keep the servers and who would have access to those kits and servers. We also need clarity who and what type of security will be used to safe guard the servers.
“Custodian of Voter Data Issue. ZEC said voter data will be transferred physically from the polling stations, to districts server and then national server on memory stick (USB). The details of how this will be done and the security surrounding it are still very unclear,” said the NERA statement.
Issues surrounding BVR kits have caused problems between ZEC and its stakeholders, with the later accusing the former of acting in bad faith.
NERA which is a grouping of opposition parties in the country is pressing electoral reforms before 2018 general elections and has held several demonstrations against ZEC’s independence in the past.
Meanwhile, NERA says it is also in the dark whether ZEC will holder hold a stakeholders meeting to discuss concerns raised with regards to the Voter Registration Draft released in April this year.
“ZEC has not responded to issues raised in our submission on the Voter Registration Draft submitted in April which was over 60 days ago.
“It is unclear when ZEC will discuss Voter Registration Draft with stakeholders and when a final Draft will be up for review,” NERA said.
According to NERA issues raised in the Voter Registration Draft included but where not limited to the following:
(a). Voter Registration for people who are listed as “Aliens”. Children of parents from other African countries who are citizens of Zimbabwe are listed as “Aliens “on their National ID although they are citizens. In 2012 those people had difficulty registering to vote. ZEC has not made it clear that these citizens will be able register.
(b). Proof of Residence issues. In the Voter Registration Draft ZEC had stipulated proof of residence was a mandatory which left thousand disenfranchised. For example, there are many Zimbabweans who live on the Banks of Mukuvisi River and other informal settlements how will they able to register.
(c). ZEC is yet to resolve the Poll mapping issues. Election poll mapping is the process of identifying and verifying specific polling stations for the 2018 elections. In the past ZEC and Zanu PF have had ballots counted from bogus polling stations. NERA Youth discovered several polling stations at ZANU PF political member residences. For example, a school owned by Zanu PF candidate Jasby Omar (JB Primary School) was used as a polling station in just ended by election.
There are a lot of irregularities around poll mapping because what is on the maps and what is on the ground does not match. For example, in Epworth ward 7 there is an area called Rex Nhongo, it’s not on their maps and it’s not clear how many people live in that area. You will realize that even a thousand people can use same address to register to vote which was created by ZEC to just say Rex Nhongo cooperative.
ZEC must clearly articulate a plan to consult with Stakeholders and deal with polling station issues that are in areas prohibited by Section 51 of the Electoral Act.
(d). ZEC has not clarified instructions as to what is recognised as Biological traits to ensure the electorate is well informed and polling station observers and monitors are clear to avoid confusion
(e). ZEC must define the term from “time to time” in relation to 2018 election. Time to time is a broad statement which needs further clarification and definition to avoid confusion and abrupt changes which may inconvenience and disadvantage the electorate.
(f). The original agreement with opposition stakeholders was a 1000 voters per polling station. ZEC has changed that number to 1500 in the voter registration draft without consultation of opposition stakeholders.
(g).The issue of assisted voters. ZEC must clearly articulate guidelines for assisted voters. Voters requiring assistance must be clearly marked on the voter and information must be provided on why they require assistance. ZEC must clearly state guidelines for poll officers involved in voter assistance. Those aiding must be neutral and must not be affiliated with any political party. There have been instances in the past where Zanu PF assists voters who do not require assistance to ensure they vote for Zanu PF
(h). ZEC must clearly articulate process of checking for duplication on voters’ roll to ensure a voter is only registered in one constituency or polling station. ZEC must list the time frames for notifying voters of changes in polling station and the process of notifying stakeholders of changes in voters’ roll.
(I). In Voter Registration Draft, ZEC stated they could change boundaries for polling station. ZEC must clearly articulate the time frames for changing boundaries. When can these boundaries change does it mean, a week, two weeks, a month, three months, a year before elections. ZEC must clearly articulate under which circumstance changes of boundaries for polling stations will be done.