The controversy and sequence of problems surrounding the voters’ roll are likely to cause the electorate to reject the results after the election, analysts have predicted.
According to the Electoral Act, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was required to provide the voters’ roll to aspiring candidates promptly after the Nomination Court meeting on June 21, but this has still to be done a week later.
ZEC stated that it was finalising the full list of candidates before issuing the voters roll to the contestants, who require it for campaign strategy.
This delay also comes after ZEC has been under fire from political parties and other stakeholders for allegedly attempting to rig election outcomes in favour of Zanu PF by exploiting the voters’ roll.
“I don’t think there could be anything worse than conducting an election in an uneven environment that is managed by ZEC. Already there are concerns on credibility before the votes have been cast. We are likely to see a situation where election results are contested and that alone, never minding the results of the legal processes thereto, puts a lot of doubt in our democratic processes as well as institutions,” said Iphithule Maphosa, a political analyst in an interview with CITE.
Maphosa said questioning of the voters’ roll dates back to when ZEC conducted its inspection exercise, which indicated that a considerable number of candidates and electorate could not locate their names on the voters’ roll or were shifted to other wards or constituencies to which they do not belong.
“As a result, the government that comes as a result of such a dispute-ridden process, will at all levels operate under pressure from people who have every right to question their mandate,” Maphosa said and advised ZEC to prioritise enhancing its image as a properly constituted constitutional entity.
“ZEC must prove that it is capable of functioning as mandated and that it will address all the anomalies stakeholders have raised from the past to now.”
Maphosa said the priority for ZEC must be to prepare for and run an election that is free of any possible dispute.
“This means a complete change of its image and perception by the public,” said the political analyst.
He stated that if ZEC resolved merely a few out of the many issues identified, that would still be insufficient to people.
“ZEC’s credibility has always been in the spotlight even during previous elections. While some of us thought the elections commission would take this 2023 edition professionally and redeem itself, we realise the chance has slipped through their fingers. The elections body has failed to prove beyond any doubt, their independence and non-partisanship has even failed to be seen as such,” he said.
“Question of ZEC’s credibility are also compounded when issues of its capacity to operate without undue outside influence, real or imagined, are raised, mostly with little denying by the commission. So this episode of blundering is not the genesis of credibility problems for ZEC but another of many examples of questionable gray areas.”
Another political expert, Effie Ncube, expressed similar comments, emphasizing the importance of having a voter roll available in order to run a free and fair election.
“Should that not be adhered to, there is likely to be a political and economic crisis post the election,” Ncube said.
“ZEC seems to lack the willingness to run a free and fair election that meets the standards set out in Zimbabwe’s constitution. A credible voters’ roll is central to a free and fair election and therefore without one there can be no credible election.”
According to Ncube, without a valid voter roll, the election outcome will undoubtedly be contested, deepening the political and economic crises.
“I do not think we will ever get to a stage where our voters’ roll is credible under the current ZEC leadership. The anomalies we saw during the voters roll inspection are unlikely to be fixed any time soon. This shows that ZEC is fundamentally failing in its constitutional mandate in a way that will affect the credibility of the election. Most of the problems ZEC is mired in are self-created,” Ncube said.