‘Demands for new voters’ roll too late’

Chris Mahove

Demands by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) for a fresh voters roll ahead of the by elections slated for March 26, are a bit too late, political analysts have said.
In separate interviews, political analysts said while the demands for a fresh voters’ roll were genuine, the timing was unpractical, adding the Nelson Chamisa led outfit should have made those demands well in advance to allow for their implementation before the by-elections.
Last week the CCC called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to compile a fresh voters roll to be used for the forthcoming plebiscite, which is now just four days away.
There have been concerns from several quarters over the voters roll, with stakeholders claiming the electoral body had manipulated the roll to benefit the status quo.
For the past few days, the anonymous social media lobby group Pachedu, which is sympathetic to opposition led by Nelson Chamisa, has been publishing what it termed evidence of irregularities in the current voters roll which ZEC intends to use for the by-elections, which will see hundreds of vacant parliamentary and municipal seats being contested.
The by-elections were called as a result of mainly recalls of MDC-A members by the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora and in some few cases, as a result of the death of sitting members, who the party claimed were still their members.
Ironically, the Mwonzora led party is contesting the by-elections under the MDC-A banner.
“Tripple C’s demands are genuine; they also make sense but unfortunately the timing is very unpractical so to speak and it is less likely that whatever grievances that they have will be rectified,” said political analyst Alexander Rusero.
Rusero said Zimbabwean opposition parties had the tendency of sitting on important issues until the last minute, which gave an advantage to the ruling party, which in turn would portray them as cry-babies.
“That is exactly what ZANU PF wants, they want to create a sustainable narrative to the region (and) to the international community (to say) that look we are always dealing with people who complain, who raise certain issues when they realise maybe they are likely to lose an election,” he said.
Rusero acknowledged that the current voters’ roll was in tatters, noting it had been like that since 2018 when the country held its first general elections after the fall of strongman Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup.
“Unfortunately the opposition also in terms of strategy, in terms of anything outside its capacity to draw support and vibrancy; i think they still have a lot to learn in terms of strategy, intelligence and also in terms of brilliance in countering initiatives,” he said.
He said once the current voters roll was used for the by-elections, it was highly likely that the same roll would be used for the watershed 2023 elections.
“We are at a scenario where even in 2023 its not far, if we are going to forge with the by-elections in March with this kind of a shambolic voters roll, we are likely to have a similar scenario next year almost around the same time. So its pretty much unfortunate on the part of the CCC,” he said
Time had come, he said, for the CCC to actually deal with certain things that were in front of them and things they want to pretend as if they only existed at the immediate backdrop of an election .
“What is the coalition going to do at the backdrop of the manifestations of violence that have started simmering that we are already witnessing; they cannot just wait, they cannot just cry, we need startegies, we need a proper alternative and countering strategies to know that we are dealing with a militant ruling party; therefore how best do you deal with a brutal ruling party in such a way that you can secure the security of the citizens,”.
Another political analyst, Gideon Chitanga, said the demands were logistically not feasible, adding ZEC would obviously ignore such demands despite being at the centre of the historical controversies linked to the instrumentalisation of the voters roll to facilitate manipulation of the electoral processes.
“Politically other players would have to find ZEC to consent to such a radical move. Political parties should work with ZEC to ensure that the whole process of elections is credible, transparent, with the necessary checks and balances to ensure free and fair outcomes whose results are not disputed and conflictual,” he said.
The voters roll has been the major bone of contention during the past elections with opposition parties and other stakeholders accusing ZEC of manipulating the roll in favour of ZANU PF.
There have been questions around the number of people registered in some constituencies with allegations of double registration, ghost voters among others.

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