By Dylan Murambgi
Harare, May 11, 2016 – DESPITE efforts to clean its image following successive disputed polls it has presided over, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is yet to win the hearts of the country’s opposition parties which still find it too timid to ward off Zanu PF interference in election management.
At an all stakeholders meeting on voter registration options on Tuesday, opposition political took time to lambast ZEC for allegedly allowing their political competitor to usurp the process.
They however welcomed the introduction of a biometric registration process which they felt shall go a long way to plug loopholes for manipulating polls.
MDC-T Secretary for Mobilisation and Recruitment, Job Sikhala lashed out at the electoral body, describing it as the biggest threat to state security in the country.
“ZEC is the biggest threat to national security because our handling of elections has been the most danger in this country,” Sikhala said in his contribution during plenary.
“When you enter into a bogus process that you pass as an election, it has an effect on how the country moves forward.”
The outspoken former MP was bold enough to tell ZEC they had manipulated the manual registration and election process and used it to rig elections on behalf of Zanu PF.
“We must evolve from this primitive way of running elections to electronic voting.
“The biometric with facial and finger print recognition is the best option in our country because double voting will not be possible,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary for Elections, Settlement Chikwinya, said he was particularly not happy about the composition of the ZEC Secretariat.
The secretariat, he said, was currently manned by state security agents recruited from the central intelligence system.
“I have recognised so many who are in this meeting and I know them by name and this actually removes confidence in some of us as political actors when we see state security agents who are CIOs being part of ZEC Secretariat.
“ZEC might have individuals who are civilians at policy level and board levels but the doers of the game, the main players in the game who are actually the secretariat are heavy CIO people who are Zanu PF by blood,” he said.
Chikwinya also expressed reservations over the way the electoral body handled its consultations with stakeholders, saying they only came to brief them on what they would have already decided on.
“By consultation, we mean we need to be asked what we want because elections are for us.
“We need to be asked what we want and ZEC implements. We must be able to evaluate stage by stage. This is what actually happens in Zambia where the stakeholders form a committee and teach implementation stage, they agree at that stage before they move on to the next stage,” he said.
He said with political will, it was possible for Zimbabwe to have a biometric voting process with facial recognition.
“We favour a situation whereby the voters roll itself is facial recognition but the data capture has facial recognition and finger print recognition so that at least we eliminate multiple entries at capturing but the roll itself, its suffice to say, it has only facial and not necessarily the finger print because we understand that the finger print becomes costly so with resources available, I think Zimbabwe is capable.
“The same as is happening in Zambia and we all know that the Zambian electoral process has not produced any disputed outcomes because they have a sound voters roll which is acceptable to every stakeholder who is supposed to be an actor in the election process,” he said.
Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe President, Elton Mangoma, said it was better for voters to be registered on the day of voting to avoid rigging and also to ensure the voting process was all inclusive.
“The simpler the better. The best way is for people to present themselves on voting day and they are recorded and allowed to vote. That way, we will have a perfect voters roll,” he said.