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Zimbabwe: Not Ready for Elections
Jan 26, 2011 (110126)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"As representatives of Zimbabwe's civil society, we are convinced
that at present, the country has not carried out sufficient
institutional and legislative reforms to enable the country to hold
credible elections free of violence and intimidation." - Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, in statement calling for additional action by
the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains statements by the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition and the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network
(ZESN), on the conditions needed to ensure free and fair elections,
and the executive summary of a new report from ZESN on the state of
the electoral roll.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains excerpts from
a new report by Afrobarometer on a national poll taken in late
October 2010, noting the current state of opinion and changes since
previous polls. Strikingly, a majority think that elections should
take place in 2011 although they also are apprehensive that they
will not be free and fair.
For previous AfricaFocus issues on Zimbabwe, visit
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Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Addis Ababa, 26 January 2011
Sham elections across Africa have been a major cause of insecurity,
instability and violent conflict; recent examples include Kenya,
Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast.
The Africa Union (AU) must be robust and resolute in promoting
shared values and best practices in the management of elections for
purposes of political stability, good governance and sustainable
The AU's condemnation of Ivory Coast's election fraud is a
commendable first step that must be backed by appropriate action.
The same approach should be applied to all national electoral
processes in Africa, including in Zimbabwe where recent elections,
notably the 2008 plebiscite was marred by extreme violence and
intimidation. Following those elections, the AU and the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) underwrote an agreement under
which Zimbabwe's political leaders formed a power-sharing
government in February 2009 aimed at paving way for transparent,
free and fair elections.
As representatives of Zimbabwe's civil society, we are convinced
that at present, the country has not carried out sufficient
institutional and legislative reforms to enable the country to hold
credible elections free of violence and intimidation. We ask that
the AU takes the following actions on Zimbabwe:
- The AU and SADC should conduct independent investigations in
Zimbabwe to establish whether the necessary conditions exist, and
the environment is conducive to holding transparent, free and fair
elections, before a new poll can be called. Fresh elections should,
therefore, only be announced after the AU and SADC have cleared
- Push for key reforms that must be undertaken ahead of fresh
elections which include the establishment of a new democratic
constitution, media freedoms, an up-to-date voters' roll, an
adequately resourced, independent and impartial electoral
management body, and mechanisms to prevent violence and
intimidation before, during and after elections.
- Together with SADC, ensure that Zimbabwe enforces constitutional
civilian control over the army and the security forces to prevent
interference with electoral processes and to ensure democratic
transfer of power. At present the infrastructure of violence, that
includes the youth militia, war veterans and a partisan security
force, remains unreformed adversely affecting the most vulnerable
groups including women, children, the disabled, the elderly and the
- Ensure that SADC supervises fresh Zimbabwe elections which the
AU and other international groups vigorously observe and monitor.
Deployment of election monitors should be at least six months
before elections with monitors remaining on the ground at least
three months after the elections.
- Provide technical, administrative and other assistance to
Zimbabwe aimed at developing and strengthening its electoral
institutions and processes.
Contacts in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe:
- Mr. Phillip Pasirayi, Spokesperson, Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Number: +251 922 331 649
- Mr. Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Coordinator, Crisis in Zimbabwe
Mobile Number: +251 922 331 650
- Mr. McDonald Lewanika, Director, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition:
Mobile Number: +263 772127398
ZESN's Statement on the state of the voters roll in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
+263 (04) 791443, 798193, 791803, 250736
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit http://www.zesn.org.zw
16 December 2010-Harare- Zimbabwe Election Support Network welcomes
the statement expressed by the Registrar-General on the 14th of
December 2010 on ZBC TV. The Registrar-General noted that the
voters roll is in shambles, an aspect that ZESN has over the years
emphasized. ZESN notes that a clean voters' roll will go a long way
in increasing the credibility of electoral processes in Zimbabwe.
ZESN appreciates the intention to finally act on the voters roll.
Findings from the voters roll observation recently conducted by
ZESN revealed significant flaws with the voters roll when tested
for currency, completeness and accuracy. The research revealed that
27 per cent of voters in the voters roll are deceased, 41 per cent
of voters do not live at the address listed in the voters roll and
that only 18 per cent of registered voters are youths (18-30).
Research findings also showed that proof of residency requirements
for urban populations constituted an obstacle in voter
While ZESN welcomes the intention to cleanse the voters roll, we
urge the Registrar-General to ensure that the process is under the
control of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which has the legal
mandate for electoral processes in Zimbabwe. ZESN observes the
close link that exists between voter registration and civic
registry but still believes that the mandate for voter registration
should fully fall under the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
ZESN believes that total control of the voters roll by ZEC will
ensure greater accountability on the state of the voters roll.
The voter registration and voters' roll clean-up processes need to
be transparent, inclusive and allow those who are eligible to vote
to be registered and those who are not eligible such as deceased
people to be removed from the voters roll. ZESN encourages the
commission to engage in voter education related to voter
registration, display, make accessible the voters roll to the
public to ensure transparency and enhance confidence in the
An accurate, complete and current voters' roll will ensure that all
eligible Zimbabweans are able to exercise their democratic right to
vote in elections more so as we approach the referendum and general
elections in the near future. ZESN expects that disclosure of the
process will ensure that the authorities' plan for the millions of
Zimbabweans working outside is revealed and interrogated openly.
A Report on a Voters' Roll Observation Conducted in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
In April 2010, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a
civic organisation whose main goal is to promote democratic
elections in Zimbabwe, embarked on a Voters' Roll Audit (VRA) to
assess the quality of the voters' roll in Zimbabwe. The research
project sought to test the accuracy; currency and completeness of
the voters' roll and make recommendations for a clean-up of the
Voter registration is the principal means to determine those
eligible to vote and those ineligible to vote. Thus a flawed
voters' roll can disenfranchise eligible voters and allow
ineligible voters to vote. International law requires fairness in
voter registration in order ensure that all eligible citizens can
be registered to vote.
Observation of the voters' roll was conducted using three tests --
a computer test, a list-to-people field test and a people-to-list
test. In the computer tests, a number of variables were selected
such as age, gender and number of voters in 2008 compared to 2010.
In the two field tests conducted, the currency, completeness and
accuracy of the voters' roll were ascertained by confirming the
identity, national registration number, date of birth and address
of the voter. A systematic analysis of data obtained from these
tests provides critical information about the quality of the voters
that can inform efforts to improve the voter registration in
Findings from the study
Accuracy of the voters' roll
- The list-to-people test revealed that 41% of registered voters
are no longer residing at the address in the voters' roll.
- 97% of respondents have not transferred to reflect the change in
residential address against 3% who transferred to new wards.
- 57% of voters had no knowledge of how to transfer from the
- 93% of entries in the voters' roll were accurately entered and 7%
of entries had errors, mainly on name, sex, date of birth and
- 99% of voters had their identity number captured correctly.
Completeness of the voters' roll
- There was a 6.35% increase in the number of registered voters
between 2008 and 2010.
- More males (52%) were registered compared to females, who
constituted 48% of the registered population. Yet population
statistics for Zimbabwe indicate that women constitute 52 per cent
of the population.
- The computer test showed that only 18% of those registered are
youths aged between 18-30.
- 49% of respondents did not appear on the voters; roll against 51%
who appeared. However, ZESN is cautious with this finding as there
was no electronic database to confirm if the persons were absent
elsewhere in the voters' roll. This figure could also be explained
by the migratory nature of Zimbabweans.
- 95% of voters had used voter registration drives to register as
- 98% of respondents had national identity cards and 2% did not.
Currency of the voters' roll
- The list-to-people test showed that 27% of voters registered in
the voters' roll were deceased.
- The computer test revealed 2344 people born between 1901 and
1909, therefore aged between 101 and 110 years old. It also
revealed nine people born between 1890 and 1900 (aged between 111
and 120 years).
The voter registration process
- 94% of voters expressed satisfaction with the voter registration
- 94% of respondents felt that providing proof of residence was not
a difficult task, with urban provinces --mainly Harare (29%) and
Bulawayo voters (14 %) -- expressing difficulties in obtaining
proof of residence.
- The study revealed that rural provinces have higher voter turnout
than urban provinces.
Recommendations to ZEC
Given the findings from the voters' roll observation, ZESN makes
the following recommendations to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) as the body that supervises the voter registration function
of the Registrar-General of Voters.
- Draw up a new a voters' roll in Zimbabwe which will go a long way
in improving the currency, accuracy and completeness of the voters'
roll. The process should be transparent and inclusive to ensure
that all eligible persons are registered;
- Strengthen the advisory committee on voter registration, which
comprises of members of political parties, CSOs, academia, voter
registration experts and voter registration information
communication technology (ICT) experts, to act as a sounding board
- Increase transparency of the voter registration processes such as
deletion from the voters' roll as the process is currently out of
public scrutiny and the criteria for deletion is left to the
discretion of the Constituency-Registrars;
- Voter education drives to inform citizens on the procedures for
registration, transferring, objections, making claims and deletion
of dead voters;
- Voter education should also include information on how relatives
can help the Registrar with objections and deletions of their
deceased relatives from the voters' roll;
- Continuous maintenance of the voters' roll is important to ensure
that voters that have become ineligible to vote, for example by
death, are removed in order to prevent over inflating the voters'
- Encourage ZEC to display the voters' roll to make it easier for
citizens to make objections on the retention of certain names in
the voters' roll;
- Requirements such as proof of residence need to be reviewed,
especially for urban voters and young voters who find it difficult
to produce proof of residence;
- The voters' roll should be accessible and readily available for
inspection to the public to increase transparency and confidence in
the voters' roll.
Recommendations to Government
- Voter registration must, in its entirety, be integrated into one
office of ZEC and ZEC should have total control of voter
registration and maintanance of the voters' roll to ensure greater
accountability for its state;
- Ensure the funding of ZEC is adequate for voter registration and
voter education that relates to voter registration;
- Prioritise young people in the issuance of the national identity
card to increase the numbers of young people who register as
- Review the requirement for proof of residence requirement as it
can be a barrier to the youths and other urban dwellers without a
Recommendations to political parties and civil society
- Encourage citizens to continually check their registration
- Increase education programmes on the importance of voter
- Monitor the registration updating process and pay special
attention to relocated voters, deceased voters and unregistered
- Improve youth participation through programmes that enhance youth
participation in electoral processes such as voter registration.
Recommendations to the international community
Voter registration exercises are resource intensive and ZESN urges
the international community to fund and provide resources as well
as technical support to ZEC on voter registration and maintenance
of the voters' roll.
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