NON-GOVERNMENTAL watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says its audit of the new voters roll shows an improved register with no anomalies affecting a large percentage of registrants.
The voters roll has been at the centre of the country’s disputed polls since 2000, when the Movement for Democratic Change emerged as a formidable challenger to ZANU-PF, which has held power since independence in 1980.
The register is also the source of opposition protests ahead of the July 30 general election. The opposition says it has spotted irregularities on the new voters roll, which they also say was not released to them on time and in the stipulated format.
ZESN, the country’s largest election watchdog, said its audit of the new roll, created using biometric voter registration between October 10 2017 and June 1 2018, was meant to provide independent, non-partisan information about the quality of the register.
“Overall, ZESN finds that the 2018 voters roll received on the 18th of June is an improvement over the 2013 preliminary voters roll,” Andrew Makoni, ZESN chairman, said in a statement announcing the audit findings.
ZESN said its audit looked at accuracy – the degree to which the roll had errors, currency – the extent to which voter details had been updated, and completeness – the degree to which the roll contains all eligible voters.
“In terms of accuracy, the audit did not identify anomalies in the 2018 voters roll that affected a large percentage of registrants or were they concentrated amongst registrants of a particular area, gender or age,” ZESN said.
“While no voters roll is perfect, a less rushed process would have allowed more time for ZEC to identify and address anomalies.”
The watchdog said it had conducted field tests to verify some registrants. From a sample of 1,200 prospective voters, ZESN said it had successfully located 89% of them.
An exercise in which 1,518 voters were interviewed confirmed 88% of them as registered voters.
The audit found that 2.47 million, or 43% of the total registrants are new voters, while 2.7 million voters, or 45%, on the 2013 roll do not appear on the new one.
Rural registration declined by 436,457 voters or 10%, while urban numbers increased by 230,218 or 14%, ZESN found.
Some 944 registrants were found to be over 100 years old, while one would not be 18 on voting day.
The audit did establish that 81 registrants (less than 0.01%) have duplicate national ID
numbers, while 4,693 (0.8%) had duplicate identifying information – the same surname,
forenames, gender and date of birth as another registrant.