Team Pachedu, an opposition political activism online group, has responded to a statement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in which the commission denied allegations of electoral fraud. Team Pachedu had accused ZEC of moving 170 000 voters to new constituencies and or wards without their consent but ZEC, in a statement publiched by Pindula News, dismissed the allegations as malice. We present Team Pachedu’s response below:
IN RESPONSE TO THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
21 February 2022
Team Pachedu has taken note of ZEC’s Press Statement. “Response to Allegations of Rigging.” We have also watched the press conference held by ZEC on 18 February 2022. Unfortunately, despite issuing the press statement and subsequently convening a press conference, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has still FAILED to provide satisfactory explanations for the various concerns and anomalies that we raised.
We challenge ZEC to provide explanations FOR ALL the following specific issues:
1. Why the Commission has made extensive changes to 156 Polling Stations, without consulting stakeholders, gazetting or informing 85,409 voters whose polling stations have been changed by the Commission. The Commission removed. merged. split up and also created new polling stations without following due process. violating Section 22A(2) of the Electoral Act which states that the Commission should consult all interested parties when determining the location of polling stations and the areas that the polling stations serve.
2. Why 170.867 addresses have been altered by the Commission without following due process. Section 35(2) of the Electoral Act states that for alterations to the voter’s roll that are made without the oral or written consent of a voter. a notice of the alteration must be published in the Gazette. but this was never done.
3. Why the Commission removed over 39.900 voters from the voters’ roll without following due process. Section 33(4) of the Electoral Act states that all removals from the voters’ roll must be gazetted, but so far, only 58,502 out of 98,459 removals have been gazetted. We challenge the Commission to explain this discrepancy and/or to list all the Gazettes made in this regard.
4. Why the Commission has changed the Ward or Constituency of over 6,900 voters despite the fact that their physical addresses have not changed as recorded in both the July 2018 and January 2022 voters’ rolls. A typical case in point is the Zvimba East/Glenview South mass-movement. where hundreds of voters have been moved from Amalinde Farm Tent polling station in Zvimba East to Chirangano Car Park Tent polling station in Glenview South without due process. Section 35(2) of the Electoral Act requires all alterations made by the commission to be gazetted, but these changes were not gazetted. Furthermore, Section 25(2) says that those who seek to be transferred to a new constituency must provide an address in the new constituency. However, for thousands of voters affected. the old address never changed implying electoral boundaries were altered without due process.
5. Why there are now many cases of people who reside at the same physical address, but have now been allocated polling stations in completely different wards or constituencies, some being several kilometres away from where they reside and voted in 2018. This is especially concerning when we know that their allocation was correct on the July 2018 Voters Roll. The Commission’s vain attempt to explain this as -two different classrooms at the same polling station” is not satisfactory as we are referring to polling station allocation to completely different wards or constituencies for the same physical address. This points to an illegal tempering with electoral boundaries, and the fact that no one was notified of such changes violates Section 37A of the Electoral Act.
6. Why ZEC Commissioners have accepted thousands of ‘Proof of Residence’ affidavits which have “UNKNOWN”, -UNNAMED”, or “N/A’ addresses. The law requires each voter to have a proof of residence and ZEC commissioners should know better than to accept UNKNOWN addresses. Section 22(a) of the Electoral Act states that a voter registration officer has the power to “demand any information reasonably necessary to enable the voter registration officer to ascertain whether the claimant is qualified to be registered as a voter or to ascertain his or her place of residence.” The presence of UNKNOWN addresses in the voters. roll points to serious breaches of the Electoral Act. A case in point, in Greendale. Harare East Constituency, 413 records do not have any address and are recorded in the voters’ roll simply as “UNKNOWN, UNKNOWN, UNKNOWN”. The Commission also needs to explain how they were allocated Wards and Constituencies when their addresses are UNKNOWN.
7. Why IDs that fail the MOD23 verification (fake IDs) are in the voter’s roll. We expect ZEC to have quality assurance mechanisms that can detect fake IDs. The fact that ZEC’s systems are so porous presents a serious challenge to the integrity of the elections if any ID can be considered as genuine by the Commission when in fact it is not. How can ZEC guarantee Zimbabwe electoral integrity when they clearly do not have quality controls?
8. We acknowledge that the Commission has deleted some of the duplicates that we raised alarm over, however, we remain concerned that some other forms of duplicate entries still exist in the voters’ roll. Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act states that the Commission should -ensure that no person is registered as a voter more than once on the voters roll for any one polling station”. The Commission should explain why they kept a roll that had duplicates all along, and why some duplicates are still there.
9. Last. but not least. the Commission must explain what their plans are regarding people who have committed perjury by providing false proof of residence affidavits. such as the 49 people registered at 1 Harare Road. Kwekwe, which has been shown to have no residents or at Stand 1981. 1st Crescent, Glenview 1, where 33 people are registered to vote, yet ground verifications have since confirmed the house. which is home to Misheck Chisvo (ZANU-PF Glenview South primary election candidate). does not accommodate the 33 voters.
10.These are our urgent concerns that need urgent answers from the Commission, however, they are not the only concerns. We expect to include additional concerns in our final report that we shall publish in due course.We should also put it on record that since the Commission started a new biometric voter registration exercise in 2017. it has never released a complete voters’ roll with fingerprints and photos for proper analysis and ground verification. Because of this. our analysis uses the voter’s ID number as the primary unique piece of data. If the Commission continues to insist that some of the various types of duplicate records that we are finding in the voters’ roll are different people.
Then we challenge the Commission to release a full voters’ roll with fingerprints and photos for proper verification. We would also like to remind the Commission the Voters’ Roll is a public document, and Section 21(4) of the Electoral Act requires ZEC to provide copies of the Voters’ Rolls which are “to be used in an election”, i.e., copies which include photos.We are deeply concerned by ZEC’s claims of cases where people, allegedly, use a stolen identity card or the identity card of a relative to register to vote.
In its statement, ZEC admits that it is aware of a weakness of the AFIS system which does not pick up these duplicates. Bearing this in mind, the public would expect ZEC to have a secondary method of verification which flags duplicate ID Numbers. The fact that both the July 2018 and January 2022 versions of the voters’ roll contain exact duplicate ID numbers suggests that ZEC does not have this secondary method of checking, or that it is not working properly, or otherwise that it is due to gross professional negligence.
Furthermore, we are disturbed to hear that the Commission has disassociated itself from the genuine 31 January 2022 copy of the voters’ roll that we have. However, all our findings are fully corroborated by screenshots that we have been capturing from the ZEC BVR Inspection website https://bvrinspection.zec.org.zw implying that our copy of the voters’ roll is authentic and has never been tampered with in any way.
We would like to remind the Commission of its mandate to conduct efficient, free, fair, transparent, and credible elections while maintaining absolute independence from any political party. With this in mind, we are disturbed to see that thousands of supporters were prevented from attending a political rally in Highfields this weekend, while none were prevented from attending a rally in Marondera on the same day. We remind ZEC that it has the power to instruct persons in the employment of the State, Section 239(J), such as police officers. We expect ZEC to issue a statement condemning the actions of the police who contravened section 133C and 151 of the Electoral Act.
William du Plooy