ZEC reports US-based hackers to police

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THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) wants US-sponsored data analysts Team Pachedu arrested after they uncovered several irregularities in the voters roll and poked holes into the electoral body’s information and technology (IT) systems.

Zec yesterday said it would report the data analysts to the police for violating data protection laws and hacking into its website.

The accusation comes after Team Pachedu said there were several “security loopholes” on Zec’s website such as unsecure administration login details, among others.

“If someone has the capacity to access information that does not appear on the homepage of the website, what is it?” Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana told NewsDay yesterday.

“Is it not hacking? We are not very sure of why they had to dig into information on our website. It is not about being exposed. We are worried about the means they use to obtain the information.

“We do not know how they intend to use that information. We do not know the profile of Team Pachedu, who they are, whether they are registered or not for us to engage them. We will not agree to meet a faceless group. To achieve what?”

Team Pachedu said the IT loopholes were so gross that they could be identified by “anyone” browsing on the internet.

“There are serious security loopholes in Zec IT systems, which are accessible to anyone browsing on the internet. For instance, the critical folders that run the website ./wp-includes and ./wp-content were left unsecured. We found five people managing the insecure Zec website,” said Team Pachedu.

The data analysts told NewsDay that Zec was mistaking its exposure as a hack.

“The fact that they call it hacking exposes their weaknesses in IT expertise. There was no hack!” Team Pachedu argued.

The data analysts also insisted that they were a legitimate group, although Zec refused to meet them.

“We don’t operate in the shadows. Recently, we invited Zec to a roundtable debate and to tour Zimbabwe showing Zec, along with journalists, the evidence of illegal double voters that we found during our five-month fieldwork audit. Zec refused to meet us face-to-face.”

Team Pachedu has been exposing serious anomalies on the voters roll.

The irregularities include the alleged movement of 170 000 voters from their constituencies and wards and creation of additional polling stations under unclear circumstances.

Zec has been accused of purportedly tampering with the voters roll to “rig” the 2023 elections in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party, but Zec has denied the allegations.