The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) allegedly demanded US$187 000 to the Election Resource Centre in order for the election watchdog to access the hard copy of the voters roll, 263Chat has learnt.
ERC Director Babra Bhebe told delegates attending the National Delimitation Conference for political parties in Bulawayo that ZEC has been reluctant to hand over the electronic voters’ roll to stakeholders who include political parties, civil society organizations and key stakeholders.
She however, revealed that after ERC requested to access the hard copy, they were told it would gobble US$187 000 to have the important document.
“ZEC’s voter roll was requested by ERC. The Commission has said that stakeholders will not have access to the electronic voters’ roll.
“However, they have stated that access to the Roll in hard copy is only available to ERC for a startling sum of more than US$187 000. A shocking cost. It would be cheaper to get the electronic format of the VR but the commission has not been willing.
“This put to question the commission’s willingness to have stakeholders scrutinize the voters’ roll. That means an issues of concern to us as the ERC,” Bhebe said.
Opposition parties attending the workshop voiced their concerns saying this jeopardizes the credibility of the commission and makes it difficult for transparency ahead of the 2023 elections.
ZAP’s Elections Secretary, Kevin Mapanda said the refusal by ZEC to give access to the online voters’ roll is nonsense.
“We already know that there is a fee that is needed for councillor, for a member of parliament and for the president to participate in the elections. So I don’t think any political party in its rightful sense will do anything about that,” he said.
Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Deputy Secretary for Elections, Ellen Shiriyedenga castigated ZEC saying by refusing to give access to the voters roll, the commission is making it difficult for the delimitation process to move forward as political parties are in the dark.
“Our people are getting in delimitation meetings without those statistics. There is that concern of the voters’ roll’s inaccessibility and there is no transparency when it comes to the voters’ roll. They only told us they can give us the printed version which we cannot analyse. It is very costly to even access the printed version as they charge US$1 per page,” she said.
However, ZEC’s Chief Elections Officer, Utoile Silaigwana said the ERC was misguided as they were not following the Statutory Instrument which gazetted the fee. He said their reluctance to release the voters’ roll was above board.
“These prices are not set by ZEC but the law speaks and we only implement it,” he said.
According to Statutory Instrument 143 of 2022, ZEC said “A hard copy of a monochrome copy of the voters’ roll shall be (1) United States dollars per page of the national voters roll, a polling station voters’ roll, a ward voters’ roll or a constituency voters’ roll, whichever one is sought.”