ZIMBABWE could be forced to revert back to using the 2013 voters’ roll and abandon the proposed biometric voters’ roll (BVR) if the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) does not clearly state the change in its proposed 2017 regulations, electoral experts have said.
Speaking at a Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) media briefing on Wednesday, law expert, Alex Magaisa said the regulations gave Zec an allowance to discard the BVR system altogether and use the 2013 voters’ roll.
“The regulations, as they are, are crafted in such a way as to give government and Zec an opportunity not to implement the BVR if they don’t like it or it does not work out for them,” he said.
Magaisa, who was heavily involved in the 2013 constitution-making process, cited section 9(2) of the proposed regulations saying it left BVR to the discretion of Zec.
“If the commission so directs, the registration officer shall also capture such biometric features of the applicant as the commission may determine,” reads the regulations.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights backed Magaisa, saying if the regulations are not changed, it would be illegal for Zec not to use the BVR and, therefore, called for the law to be tightened to avoid confusion.
Zesn director, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, said while BVR was movement in the right direction with the ability to cure, double voter registration, clean out ghost voters and dumping the dodgy 2013 voters’ roll it was not a magic bullet that could deal decisively, with problematic electoral irregularities that have rocked past polls.
“What we need to worry about is basically how the local players, voter registration officers, are going to do it, in terms of the capacity of the voter registration officers and also in terms of training and the funding wether there is going to be adequate funding for this process to be completed. We also need to worry about the handling of data because it can be manipulated,” she said.