The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has threatened to sue activists and pressure groups for disclosing people’s personal details when exposing alleged discrepancies on the national voters roll.
Speaking on Thursday in a meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, ZEC chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said the public disclosure of voters’ personal details was illegal and exposed voters to physical attacks.
Silaigwana singled out Team Pachedu, a group of activists who have been at the forefront in exposing alleged ZEC misdemeanours in managing the voters’ roll. He said:
First and foremost, it is important to note that most, if not all, of the allegations that are being raised on social media have not been formally brought to the attention of the commission save through unorthodox means.
A shadowy group called Team Pachedu has been at the forefront of raising some of the allegations on social media, especially regarding issues related to the national voters roll.
The publication of voters’ information on social media, as is now being done without seeking clarification from the commission, is highly deplorable and puts voters at risk.
As much as the national voters roll is a public document, it is also a security document containing voters’ personal details.
Any abuse of it attracts legal consequences and the commission has a duty to protect voters’ information which they supplied in confidence.
The advent of social media has exacerbated challenges related to the security of information of citizens.
Silaigwana said allegations made against ZEC may negatively affect the credibility of the electoral process. He said:
The commission is accountable to Parliament through the Justice Committee and has engaged to give updates on electoral activities.
Of concern to the commission are the various allegations which relate to the mandate of the commission that has been highly publicised on social media, which have a damaging effect of casting aspersions on the credibility of our electrical process.
Team Pachedu recently exposed irregularities, among them the movement of over 170 000 registered voters from constituencies without their consent.