Zimbabwe opposition decries delay in getting voters’ roll

In this Thursday, March 8, 2018 photo, the leader of MDC-T, Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party, Nelson Chamisa gestures during an interview with the Associated Press in Harare. Ahead of Zimbabwe's crucial elections this year, the biggest opposition party has selected a charismatic lawyer and pastor to challenge the military-backed president in the first vote without former leader Robert Mugabe in decades. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE, — Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC Alliance on Tuesday decried the delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to give it a copy of the voters’ roll.

This comes after some candidates and non-governmental organizations have since been issued with the roll in preparation for the July 30 vote.

ZEC released the voters’ roll which contains 5.6 million registered voters last Friday.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa tweeted Tuesday that they had made a request to ZEC but were still to get a copy of the voters’ roll four days after its release.

“We still don’t have the voters roll. Our people have been told to wait 48 hours. We are struggling to understand why ZEC is frustrating our attempts to access this important document,” Chamisa said.

The opposition party and others have also complained about ZEC’s failure to release the final voters roll before the nomination courts sat on June 14 as required by law.

ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said they could not meet the deadline because they were unable to complete data cleaning on time.

Chamisa, who is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s main challenger, has threatened that no elections will be held if ZEC fails to meet its demands for electoral reforms.

His party has also accused Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF of planning to steal the election through systematic rigging and denying other political parties access to information.

However, Chigumba said Monday nothing short of a catastrophic natural disaster can stop the general election as the law requires the country to proceed with polls after the president proclaims the dates.

“The first thing to take note of is that once the president has proclaimed the election date there is nothing short of an earthquake which can stop the election,” Chigumba said.

“So whether candidates scrutinize the voters’ roll, whether they see anomalies in it, whatever the anomalies are or whatever legal recourse that they have will not stop the election.”

Mnangagwa has promised to deliver a free, fair and credible election which will be observed by Western observers for the first time since 2002.

Chigumba said at this stage of the electoral process, parties could only gather evidence to challenge the outcome of the election.

She said ZEC will in a few days time publish the names of all successfully nominated candidates and thereafter issue them with free copies of the voters’ roll.

A total of 23 candidates have registered to contest the presidential election, the highest number since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.