Opposition coalition rejects fingerprint voting system for 2018 elections



Harare (Mlondolozi Ndlovu) – Zimbabwe’s coalition of smaller opposition political parties, the Coalition for Democrats (CODE) has dismissed the yet to be introduced Biometric Voters Roll (BVR), saying it will assist Zanu PF to effectively rig next year’s polls and have suggested that the country uses Identity cards for voting in the 2018 elections.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced that the country will use the BVR for the 2018 plebiscite, a move which effectively means that the country will need a new voters roll.

BVR has been used in other African countries and has been seen as a method that prevents duplicate voting, while the country’s independent election watchdog ZESN and other Civil society organisations have supported this system, CODE says this method is not what the country needs to reduce cases of rigged elections.

CODE is a coalition of 6 political parties which include Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile, Elton Mangoma’s RDZ, ZAPU and Gilbert Dzikiti’s DARE.

In a statement, they said the introduction of BVR would not deal with the vast number of electoral challenges in the country, arguing Zimbabwe’s electoral challenges are not technological but range from the composition of ZEC to intimidation by Zanu PF among other issues.

“BVS main advantage is to curb duplicate voting, although duplicate voting takes place, it is by far not the main methods used by ZANU PF and ZEC to rig the election. Only a very visible mark of those who have voted is the appropriate deterrant for double voting. The main methods used include FEAR, Coercion, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) itself, its staff and the electoral management system they use,” said CODE.

The electoral coalition whose leadership rotational is currently led by Renewal for Democrats (RDZ) President Elton Mangoma, who in the statement also highlighted that it was very easy for the computer system to be manipulated by the ruling party.

“A computer system can be manipulated and very few if any of the political parties and civil society has any skill to detect such manipulation. This will be giving ZANU PF and ZEC a free hand to rig with the permission of the political parties. Colleagues, you cannot control what you do not know. ZANU PF and ZEC control the passwords and any override authority,” they added.

Power shortages, internet problems and a number of technical issues the parties said would hamper ZEC from producing a free, fair and credible election result.

“A computer system requires electrical power, which is extremely short in Zimbabwe. Many of the rural polling stations have no electricity and are far from any facilities. A computer can fail, power can go and any backup if any, provided, can also fail. We cannot ignore the fact that the system has a lot of technicalities, which Zimbabwe is not yet well versed with as we are still lagging behind technology wise,” they added.

Offering an alternative the coalition said they were advocating for the voting by identity documents, similar to what the country did in the 1980 elections.

“CODE there for advocates the use of Identity documents with all citizens as defined by the Constitution being allowed to vote. A separate roll can be created on voting day for all those voting with Identity documents and this roll will be given to all political parties participating in those elections. Further CODE calls for Internationally Managed elections in which ZEC plays no role,”

The coalition revealed that they had been a number of failures to the biometric voters system in African countries, giving the example of Nigeria, where among other technicalities the system failed to recognise the then President Goodluck Jonathan.