Conrad Dube/Loughty Dube
THE voters’ roll has glaring errors that are likely to disenfranchise thousands of voters, especially in urban constituencies, in the March 31 parliamentar
A voters’ roll audit conducted this week unearthed hundreds of ghost voters, with some entered more than once. There are also incomplete addresses and dubious entries.
This came out as the High Court in Bulawayo yesterday barred police from interfering with the voters’ roll inspection being conducted by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) countrywide.
The MDC filed the application after police arrested seven of its activists who were conducting a voters’ roll audit in the city.
High Court Judge Maphios Cheda granted the opposition an interim relief to conduct its voter verification exercise without interference.
The MDC’s application, filed through the party’s lawyers Coghlan Welsh and Guest, attacked the police for overzealousness.
“The conduct of the first respondent and the police in general is reprehensible and retrogressive, especially against the backdrop of positive efforts being made by government in correcting the bad image that has been painted on the conduct of elections in this country,” read the application.
“It is this kind of overzealous turpitude which is completely incongruent to the general trend of not only levelling the political playing field but also clearing the democratic complexion of our country in order to portray a legacy of political tolerance and maturity.”
The opposition says it has identified anomalies on the Harare Central and Mbare voters’ rolls. There are also alleged discrepancies on the Harare North roll. The MDC is carrying out audits in all urban areas.
Anomalies include the appearance of names of people in constituencies in which they don’t reside. For instance, one Spiwe Muchazviona of 54-4th Street, Newlines, Mbare and Batisai James of 31 Ardbennie Road, Mbare appear in the Harare Central voters’ roll. Also in the Harare Central roll is one Museve Silas of 7 Dumbe Road, Mufakose. It also has a significant number of Sunningdale 2 addresses.
Double entries are prevalent on the roll. For instance, one Dires Ngwendeka, identity number 63-492865H-63, whose address has been given as 6 Five Avenue, Earls Court, Harare also appears as having another identity number 63-492863M-63 and residing at the same address.
Independent candidate for Harare Central and former member of parliament for Harare South, Margaret Dongo, claims the discrepancies are a deliberate tool to be used by Zanu PF to rig the March election.
Dongo in 1995 won the Harare South seat in a re-run against Vivian Mwashita of Zanu PF after the court confirmed the elections had been rigged.
“This is a tool Zanu PF has always used to rig elections and if the opposition is not critical of this process, we are likely to see a two-thirds majority for Zanu PF.
“If the Zanu PF government was serious about conducting democratic elections it should have rectified these problems after they were uncovered in the 1995 election. This shows that Zimbabwe does not have the capacity to produce a perfect voters’ roll.”
Responding to written questions on behalf of the Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, a CA Goredema said capturing of data was still in progress.
He said multiple entries would be picked up during the computerisation of the data.
“However, we do thank you for your notifying us that we can deal with this matter with ease,” he said. “Although such entries may appear on the roll due to error by data capturers, the person votes once. The person cannot vote more than once. If he/she does so, it will be a statutory offence tantamount to prosecution.”
Dongo has also been barred from distributing campaign material at Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Tomlinson depot. In a written letter to Dongo, police superintendent A Mpofu, said: “Be advised that your application (to distribute campaign materials in ZRP Tomlison Camp) dated February 5 has not been approved. Such activities are not allowed in camp and may you please appreciate our position.”
Dongo has however written to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, arguing that the police decision is in contravention of the Electoral Act.
MDC Harare North MP, Trudy Stevenson, has discovered 82 incorrect entries at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering — part of Block 60409 — and 52 at Pomona Stone Quarries.
She said: “We are informed the people were all moved off by the employer early last year. In Hatcliffe Extension there are 1 773 incorrect entries, including insufficient addresses — even if they are known.
“There is a big variation! Zanu PF is constantly trying to ‘control’ the two Hatcliffe areas and I think that is where we will have problems on polling day,” Stevenson said.
She said intimidation of voters has also started. “Voters are being told they will lose their houses in Harare North Co-operatives and Hatcliffe Extension if they don’t vote Zanu PF. We are reporting all that to the ZEC,” she said.