Back to Index
will Zanu-PF cheat?
Peta Thornycroft, The Sunday Independent (UK)
So how is
Zanu-PF going to cheat? That is the question on many lips ahead
of Thursday's national poll.
If Zanu-PF wins as most predict, no one, including observers (of
whom there will only be enough to cover two thirds of the polling
stations), the few accredited foreign diplomats or, most importantly,
the people, will ever know if the ruling party beat the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) fairly and squarely.
"It's all in the voters' roll, stupid!" said an MDC candidate cheerfully
when asked the "how-will-they-cheat" question in Bulawayo this week.
As of last week, the roll had 5,7 million registered voters, according
to the Zimbabwe Election Commission, which said it closed registration
for Thursday's election on February 4. (The commission is the legal
mouthpiece for several other authorities that are really running
It has grown
by more than 100 000 in the past three weeks.
The Zimbabwe government has persistently refused the MDC access
to two CD-roms that hold all the information on the voters' roll.
To audit the voters' roll for duplications of unique identity numbers,
therefore, the MDC has to lug several kilograms of faint print-outs
to check the veracity of the information.
Its private-sector data consultants say they have the software in
place to check for duplications to audit the roll electronically
within 48 hours of receiving the CDs.
The MDC says the accurate figure for the voters' roll should be
3,2 million based on the census of 2002 and extrapolating statistics
collected door to door of people not known at addresses given on
the roll in a mix of a dozen rural and urban constituencies ahead
of Thursday's poll.
In a densely populated block in a constituency in Harare the MDC
says it found that 64 percent of registered voters were not known
at their given addresses after a laborious house-by-house audit.
The University of Zimbabwe's statistics department generously estimated
that the voters' roll could be as high as 4,6 million, if 80 percent
of youngsters had registered as soon as they had turned 18.
The university statistics did not estimate the huge numbers who
have left Zimbabwe since the study was done nearly four years ago,
nor the rising toll of HIV and Aids and the decreasing life expectancy,
now down to about 35, according to the World Health Organisation.
On Thursday people will vote at more than 8 000 polling stations,
with three queues at each station and only one polling agent to
monitor all the processes, such as checking ID numbers, on one day.
The polling agent is not permitted to use a cellphone or any other
means of communication to report any hitches during voting, or to
let anyone know the results immediately after counting ends at the
That information will be telephoned through by the government's
presiding officers to the 2005 command centre in Harare, staffed
by the same people as in 2002, but now called the National Logistics
And, in case that information worries conscientious observers, there
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said last week that voter registration
was continuing. It said those who registered after February 4 would
not be allowed to vote on Thursday. But it also said that anyone
whose name did not appear on the roll, but had a receipt from registration
officials showing that they should be a voter, could bring their
receipt along on Thursday, and they would be allowed to cast their
The voters' roll, therefore, has a wide variety of rigging options
in each and every constituency, but particularly in rural areas,
and only analysis of the electronic version of the voters' roll
would allow Zimbabweans and the world to know whether voting and
counting on March 31 was accurate.
Jonathan Moyo, who is standing as an independent candidate, said
this week that having only one polling agent for three polling queues
invited rigging. Moyo is also unhappy about the voters' roll, although
he saw no problems in 2002 when he was information minister.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.