ERC bemoans ZEC inaccuracies in election administration

Priscilla Chigumba

Ahead of the 2018 elections, in its pre-election report, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) raised concerns around what appeared to be clear indications of ill-preparedness by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct a credible, free and fair election.

The ERC noted issues that would result in an inevitably disputed electoral outcome, if changes were not instituted. It said major signals of ZEC’s ill-preparedness to run a credible poll included limited transparency in the administration of key electoral processes such as voter registration, procurement, production, storage and distribution of sensitive electoral materials including ballot papers.

“The pattern of ill-preparedness was also clearly evident in the state of the availed incomplete voters’ roll. The voters’ roll contained inaccuracies that should not have been accommodated in a biometric voters’ roll such as potential duplicate entries, entries with missing information such as residential addresses and questionable identity numbers. While some of the challenges with the incomplete voters’ roll shared could have been a result of a potentially defective civil register, the ERC contended that a credible voters’ roll should have rejected inaccurate entries and the fact that such entries had been left on the roll raise questions around ZEC’s competence.

“Unfortunately, the same issues regarding ill-preparedness and gross inaccuracies have arisen with the results announced by the electoral commission. The results announced expose disturbing arithmetic errors, over voting (more votes than registered voters), results counted more than once, missing polling stations, polling stations without results and polling station identity numbers that are different from the gazetted ones. The existence of such inadequacies on the announced presidential results, coupled with the absence of a publicly shared complete biometric voters’ roll used on polling day exposes the elections, including the results, to potential manipulation or fraud,” ERC said in a statement.

It added that in an environment of limited public confidence in the electoral commission, ZEC could have done a better job in fully and proactively preparing for the 2018 harmonised elections including verifying their own information, availing opportunities and necessary information for independent verification of all electoral processes.

“Further, ZEC should have been more accountable to election stakeholders across the election cycle. Going forward, ZEC must improve on issues around accuracy and transparency in election administration,” ERC said.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende