BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/SHARON BUWERIMWE

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday claimed it had uncovered a scam where civic groups allegedly enticed already registered voters to register multiple times in order to discredit the electoral management body.

Zec President Priscilla Chigumba told local television: ZTN, that the electoral body’s verification system had identified several multiple voters sponsored by civic groups.

“There were a lot of people who were enticed to register to vote. These people did not reveal to the NGOs [non-governmental organisation] and civil society organizations that they were already registered to vote in order to access the incentives,” Chigumba said.

“These people were then flagged by our system that there was someone with a set of fingerprints who had registered to vote six times but was already on the voters list.

“So what happens in our system is that if you register 10 times to vote, it will only recognize one file, it will only say there is one registered. You can’t fool Zec’s voter registration system.

She added: “Our system operates on the basis of fingerprints as the primary identification. The system does not care about your national identity. He informs us that there is a person trying to register six or more times. We only accept one set of fingerprints per person and we refuse
others.

“That’s what’s happening, it’s been reported to us that they will deliberately go to registration centers and they will deliberately go to different organizations that are mobilizing people to register to vote and that they would have access to incentives and when it comes to being registered as one voter registrant, it identifies them as multiple registrants.

Zec’s voter registration exercise has been condemned by civic groups and election observers as not inclusive and likely to starve thousands of potential new voters.

The electoral body admitted that its voter registration centers are few and far between, and promised to remedy the problem through a voter registration blitz to be launched next month.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of Residents’ Associations for Electoral Reforms (RACER) yesterday called on Zec to speed up the voter registration process by opening more centers.

RACER spokesperson Marvelous Khumalo told reporters in Harare that the March 26 by-elections would only be considered free and fair if all eligible voters were given the opportunity to vote.

“The credibility of the upcoming by-elections depends on the conduct of the Zec, state media and the security sector. Zec should fully play its role in an impartial manner as it is the panacea for free and fair elections,” Khumalo said.

“All contesting parties must have equal access to all electoral events and all candidates must have equal access to the media for campaigning and publicity purposes. Political parties must also demonstrate peace and political tolerance.

He said the coalition was putting in place mechanisms for a massive voter mobilization campaign aimed at tackling voter apathy seen in the last by-elections.

He blamed the Registrar General’s (RG) office for not expediting the issuance of necessary identity documents during voter registration.

Last year, Interior Minister Kazembe Kazembe said the RG office was facing a severe shortage of consumables needed to produce identity documents.

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