Audit: More Than a Million Extra Names on Zimbabwe Voter Rolls

July 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

BY Sebastian Mhofu

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — An independent audit of Zimbabwe’s voters roll has found
it contains the names of more than a million people who either are deceased
or have left the African country. The research group that conducted the
audit spoke to reporters Wednesday after the government blocked it from
making a presentation to civil society groups. The findings come less than
two weeks before Zimbabwe is due to hold national elections.

The Research and Advocacy Unit [RAU] was supposed to present the findings of
its audit of the voters roll on Wednesday to pro-democracy civic
organizations in Harare. But the event was canceled on government orders,
said Kuda Chitsike, who heads the RAU.

“The Registrar General left an interdict at our offices from the High Court
to stop the event from going ahead,” said Chitsike. “The Registrar General’s
interdict is based on a misconception that we wanted to launch the voters’
roll. RAU was going to launch an analysis done on the voters’ roll. The
chairperson of ZEC and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are aware that RAU
has been working on such an audit.”

Analysis of voters roll

The electoral commission had asked the Registrar General’s office – a
government department – to compile a voters’ roll for the July 31 elections,
which RAU then analyzed.

Besides revealing that the voter roll has more than a million people who are
either deceased or have left Zimbabwe, RAU said there is a marked
registration bias in favor of rural constituencies, which are mainly
strongholds of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

Jeremiah Bamu of the advocacy group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is
hopeful RAU will be allowed to present the audit, which also found that 63
constituencies have more registered voters than inhabitants based on the
2012 census.

“We have communicated with lawyers representing the Registrar General’s
office and alerted them that their application is based on something that is
not correct. We supplied them with correct information,” said Bamu. “What
might have influenced the Registrar General to block this presentation.”

“The usual fears that they have that people have access to the voters roll
and can identify some inconsistencies,” he said.

The lawyer added that the case would spill into court if the government does
not allow RAU to make public its audit of Zimbabwe voters’ roll.

MDC makes court challenge

Already, the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] party of Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai is in court challenging special early voting of Zimbabwe’s
police and security forces.

The voting this week went on three days, one more than the
constitutionally-mandated limit of two.

The MDC also is arguing that the electoral commission inflated the number of
security agents in order to rig the elections for Mugabe and his party. The
case will continue Thursday at Zimbabwe’s high court where the MDC is
seeking to have these early votes nullified.

Even before this controversy, the elections appeared beset by trouble. Last
week, Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned that Zimbabwe was about $90
million short in election funding.

The elections, if they go through, are expected to end the power-sharing
government formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai after the violent and disputed
2008 elections.

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