THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has turned down demands by opposition political parties and civil society groups to hire external chartered accountants to audit the voters’ roll ahead of this year’s elections.
Zec chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba confirmed yesterday that she spurned the request after parties and other interest groups raised the issue of engaging accountants to audit the voters’ roll, with the commission bearing the cost during a stakeholders’ consultative meeting in Nyanga last week.
She said according to the law, such an act was not allowed and anyone who wishes to audit the voters’ roll was free to do so at their own cost provided they are a registered election participant.
“The request was made that Zec undertakes an audit of the voters’ roll by engaging chartered accountants and our response was that, the auditing of the voters’ roll was provided for in the law and as Zec, we shall produce a provisional voters’ roll, which shall be subjected to the electorate for inspection and correction.
“This is an audit that is provided for by the law.
“So, anyone, who wants to have the voters’ roll audited, even in America or anywhere, they are free to come and collect the roll and do the audit on their own and bring matters that they would have noted for correction,” Chigumba said.
Chigumba said parties had wanted the exercise to be done by a team of professionals, but that was not provided for in the law.
“The law has sufficient mechanisms to ensure we have a clean voters’ roll.
“Those who wanted this move were saying it has been done in Kenya, we should also do it.
“Our response was that we must follow what is provided for in the Constitution,” the Zec boss said.
The issue of a clean voters’ roll has been a bone of contestation in previous elections with opposition parties alleging that the electoral body, together with Zanu PF, was deliberately manipulating the roll for its selfish agenda.
Chamisa’s MDC-T had challenged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to engage an independent firm to audit the final voters’ roll to flush out ghost voters ahead of this year’s general elections.
Party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said external auditors were required for the voters’ roll to pass the credibility test.
“We demand that external auditors be allowed to look at the voters’ roll before it is used in the elections, Zec said it will do an internal audit, but that is not enough, Zec, through a tender, should invite an audit firm which goes through the roll,” he said.
Chigumba said during the inspection period, registered voters, who wish to change their addresses or correct spellings of their names would be allowed to do so and this to her, was an audit process, which if done comprehensively, would lead to a clean, credible voters’ roll.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the United Nations Development Programme, political parties, civic groups, and chiefs’ representatives, independent constitutional bodies as well as the police election commandant.