The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has succumbed to opposition pressure and released a copy of the new biometric voters’ roll (BVR) complete with pictures to the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance, NewsDay has reported.
Chamisa’s chief election agent, Jameson Timba confirmed the development yesterday.
“The Zec chair finally sees sense, that it is the person’s vote which is a secret not his or her face. She will now issue a PDF BVR voters’ roll,” he said.
This came after Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba told journalists early this week that they had withdrawn pictures from the biometric voters’ roll (BVR) given to political parties and other stakeholders for security reasons.
“Following threats by some unscrupulous individuals to track down our registered voters door-to-door, the commission would like to advise that on legal advice, decided not to issue the roll with photographs in an effort to protect voters,” she said then.
But, Zec acting chief elections officer Utolile Silaigwana last Thursday appeared to be singing from a different hymn, saying the voters’ pictures had been removed because it was not possible to issue out the roll with pictures in an analysable format.
“Further it is important for stakeholders to note that such roll is printed in PDF format and as such is not analysable and searchable as envisaged by the law. However, this does not mean that the commission is under any constraint to provide any person who requests for it in that format a copy,” he said.
“Those who wish to get a copy of the PDF voters’ roll containing voters’ photographs are free to approach the commission with their own external computer hard drives where such rolls will be downloaded,” he said.
MDC Alliance principal Tendai Biti said the confusion served to show that the commissioners were not in control of the commission and demanded that the BVR roll with pictures must be searchable and analysable.
“The current electoral management body is ranked as the most subjective, most biased and most incompetent in the history of elections in Zimbabwe.
Above all this is a body that lies and is reinventing the word lie. This body must be disbanded forthwith. They should simply comply with the law, it (voters’ roll) should be searchable and analysable,” he said.
The Elections Resource Centre accused Zec of changing goalposts in order to riggle out of its legal obligations.
“The fact that these issues are being raised now after questions were raised about what was issued suggests scrounging for excuses on the part of the election administration body,” ERC said.