Panic as voters find their names missing from the voter’s rolls

By Paul Sixpence

SCORES of Mzilikazi residents could not find their names at polling stations where they usually cast their ballots due to involuntary transfers, shifting of ward boundaries as per the latest delimitation exercise and other unexplained reasons.

Ward 8 covers Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja and Thorngrove suburbs. The Ward falls under the newly created Mpopoma – Mzilikazi constituency.

Previously it was under Makokoba constituency.

“This morning (Sunday), I went to Mzilikazi High School to inspect the voters’ roll but I was told by ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) officials that my name was not on the roll,” said Wesley Moyo, a Mzilikazi resident. “I was shocked because I always cast my vote at Mzilikazi High School. That is where I voted in the 2018 general election and the 2022 (Ward 8) by-election.”

According to ZEC’s delimitation report, two polling stations, Mzilikazi High School and Mpilo Central Hospital were shifted from Ward 8 to Ward 2.

CITE visited Mzilikazi High, Sobukhazi High, Lobengula Primary schools, McDonald Hall, Mzilikazi Housing Office and Mzilikazi Clinic voters’ roll inspection centres and spoke to residents who expressed their frustrations for having to move from one voter inspection centre to the next in search of their names and polling stations.

“When I enquired from ZEC officials on what course of action to take next, they advised that I search for my name at all inspection centres in the ward,” added Moyo. “I was lucky to find my name at Lobengula Primary School, but this was after I had visited four other voter inspection centres without success.”

In an interview with former Ward 8 Councillor and aspiring Proportional Representation (PR) Councillor, Shilla Musonda, she said that she visited Mzilikazi High School, Mpilo Central Hospital and McDonald Hall inspection centres and was informed by ZEC officials that a number of residents who visited the centres could not find their names on the voters’ roll.

A ZEC official resident in Ward 8 and a registered voter at Lozikeyi Primary School speaking on condition of anonymity said that they could not find their name at their polling station. Using the *265# USSD mobile phone code, they discovered that they had been “unilaterally transferred” to Ward 17 in Pumula suburb.

Challenges in the voters roll inspection process have been further exacerbated by the malfunctioning of mobile phone-based voters roll inspection *265# USSD code and lack of clarity from ZEC officials manning inspection centres.

“I visited my polling station this afternoon and I was told my name was not on the voters’ roll,” said a resident who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I asked ZEC officials on how this was possible since I am a registered voter and I have always voted at that station. They could not give me a satisfactory answer and they advised me to go to Windsor Park (ZEC’s Provincial Offices) for assistance.”

The problem is not isolated to Ward 8 only.

Former Minister of Industry and Commerce Prof. Welshman Ncube, took to micro-blogging site, Twitter, to register similar concerns.

“Today (Sunday), I went to check my name at the Burnside tent polling station where I always vote. Am NOT on that roll. I checked on the ZEC electronic roll and their system says my details cannot be found. This is in spite of the fact that when I last checked last month my name was there,” wrote Prof. Ncube.

Makokoba constituency legislator, Hon. James Sithole, expressed concern over reports of missing names on the voters roll and involuntary transfer of voters which goes against Statutory Instrument 14 of 2023.

“It is a very sad development for Zimbabwe as a whole because the issue of missing names is not only happening in Makokoba (constituency) but throughout the country,” said Hon. Sithole. “This seriously discredits the fairness of our electoral processes as a country. The whole process is now in doubt. Since yesterday we have had a number of people coming forward to complain that their names are missing on the voters roll and some have been involuntarily transferred to some polling stations. We are encouraging people to go and check their names hence we expect the number of complaints to increase today. All this is against Statutory Instrument 14 of 2023.”

“I have always been voting at Stanley Hall but surprisingly my name has been moved to St. Patricks Primary School. If they can surely do this to a sitting Member of Parliament how about other citizens. This proves that ZEC is not competent to run elections,” Hon. Sithole further added.

Statutory Instrument 14 of 2023 on the outcomes of the delimitation report states that, “In general, no voters were moved from their polling stations. Registered voters in each ward and constituency will vote at their usual polling stations although their ward number or name of constituency may have changed.”

According to ZEC, the voters roll inspection is set to run from 27 to 31 May 2023, albeit with a chance for extension to 01 June 2023 due to delays in delivering inspection materials. Inspection centres open at 7am and close at 5pm.

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