Govt Should Timeously Avail Funding For Bio-Metric Voter Registration

Zimbabwe Election Support Network has called on government to avail funding to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to conduct bio-metric polling station based voter registration ahead of the 2018 elections.

Responding to a  Sunday Mail story  published on 15 January 2017  reporting that ZEC had acquired USD30 million for the Bio-metric Voter Registration (BVR) process, ZESN said they are concerned that government had not yet availed its share of financial support apart from the USD9,8 million allocated to the Commission by the Treasury end of 2016.

“In the 2016 national budget, the government allocated a paltry USD8,3 million to ZEC, which was far short from the USD29 million that the Commission had requested to enable it to acquire vehicles for the voter registration exercise. ZESN is concerned by the government’s lack of financial commitment to ZEC’s requests,” ZESN said in a statement released to the media.

The organisation’s Director, Rindai Chipfunde Vava said her organisation is worried that ZEC has always been facing financial constraints adding that by-elections were being undertaken without adequate funding affecting processes like voter education.

“ZEC has always faced perennial financial constraints and this is extremely worrying. We have noted from our recent observation of by-elections that a number of electoral processes are being undertaken with inadequate funding and voter education programmes are one of those processes that have been seriously affected”, said Vava.

ZESN added that Section 239 (c), (d) and (e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates ZEC to register voters, compile the voters’ rolls as well as ensure proper custody and maintenance of the voters’ rolls urging governnent to ensure that ZEC is sufficiently and timeously resourced with technical, financial and human resources for them to smoothly execute their mandate.

“ZESN therefore calls upon the government to seriously commit to this process which commenced last year with the mapping exercise.

In addition ZEC and UNDP flighted a tender inviting potential local and international companies to supply the Bio-metric Voter Registration (BVR) kits an indication that there is no going back with BVR,” added ZESN.

As Zimbabwe prepares for the harmonised elections scheduled for 2018, a comprehensive voters’ roll will contribute immensely to the credibility of these elections hence ZESN’s call for government and ZEC to take this process seriously.

“Furthermore, ZEC should open up all electoral processes to observers and other key electoral stakeholders for scrutiny.

In the case of the BVR process, observers should be invited to observe the tendering, procurement, deployment, data recovery procedures, de-duplication among other key BVR processeas to enhance the confidence of stakeholders in the process and improve ZEC’s accountability and transparency,” said ZESN.

Government of Zimbabwe had pledged USD17 million against a total budget requirement of USD50 million for the BVR process alone. Development partners through the UNDP pledged the balance.