By Prof Jonathan Moyo
Why did @ZECzimembark on a voter registration blitz when: *There are major by-elections taking place? *Likely voters who turned 18 have no IDs? *It has 9,000 opaque BVR kits? *It can’t detect multiple voter registration instantly? *CSOs are paying likey voters to register?
The five questions are necessary to unpack because, as @ZECzim began 28 days of its first phase of voter registration blitz yesterday ahead of the delimitation exercise; there’re worrying signs that unless it is stopped, ZEC is setting the stage to rig the 2023 elections!
It cannot be right, in fact it’s culturally and politically provocative, that a shopkeeper greets and speaks in chiShona in Tsholotsho to a shopper they don’t know. With respect to contrary views, it has to be said in the strongest terms that @Mamoxn was right to be outraged!
If you visit, work, study or live in a linguistic community that speaks a language different from yours; you have an obligation to learn and speak the language of that community in your public engagements or interactions with it. The linguistic issue is that straightforward!
While the social media is a great facilty with untold potential for progressive change, its downside in Zimbabwe has been the proliferation of opinionated and uninformed public discourse in which right or wrong, and true or false, depend on the speaker; and not on the speech!
Because political parties and civic organizations that normally monitor @ZECzim
‘s voter registration blitzs will be preoccupied with the by-elections; it is mischievous for ZEC to run the two processes concurrently, one or both will suffer due to lack of adequate monitoring!
Second, @ZECzim ‘s voter registration blitz raises eyebrows not only because it clashes with by-elections but it’s also happening at a time when likely voters who’ve turned 18 can’t get their National IDs; as govt says it will be ready only end of March, well after the blitz!
When @ZECzim postponed the voter registration blitz whose first phase had been slated to start on 6 Dec 2021, it said the postponement was to “allow all eligible stockholders to acquire national identity cards, which are requisite for voter registration”. This was a big lie!
It is crystal clear that @ZECzim ‘s concurrent running of by-elections that are a mini general election; with its voter registration blitz, ahead of the Registrar General’s blitz for National IDs at the end of March, is nothing but a classic case of voter suppression!
Third, there is the all important issue of the number of BVR kits that @ZECzim has. Recently, ZEC spokesperson and Commissioner, Joyce Kazembe, announced that they have 6,000 BVR kits; a staggering twofold increase from the 3,000 kits ZEC had for the 2018 general election!
How and from whom were the extra 6,000 BVR kits acquired? In 2018 a dubious Chinese company the Laxton Group, supplied the 3,000 BVR kits, which had a capacity to create 10,000 polling stations, each registering up to 1,000 voters, and all with a total of 10 million voters!
If the 3,000 BVR kits acquired in 2017 for the 2018 elections had the capacity to register up to 10 million voters, disaggregated by some 10,000 polling stations; how many voters can or will 9,000 BVR kits register: 30 million, in a country with a population of 16 million?
Why has there been secrecy around the extra 6,000 BVR kits acquired since the 2018 elections? What was @ZECzim ‘s distribution plan for the 9,000 BVR kits for the voter registration blitz, when it initially said it would have 2,700 mobile registration centres, nationwide?
While @ZECzim has said it has 9,000 BVR kits; it said it would have 2,700 mobile registration centres for the blitz, but did not say how many BVR kits it would deploy at each of them; only to end up with a paltry 776 centres & only 776 BVR kits; yesterday. Something smells!
Given that @ZECzim is mischievously dividing public attention between by-elections, which are a mini general election, and a voter registration blitz; run concurrently, it will be an uphill battle for political parties to track the actual number and deployment of BVR kits!
Fourth, on 21 Jan 2022 @NewsDayZimbabwe reported that @ZECzim ‘s chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, claimed to @ZTNnews that ZEC’s verification system had identified multiple voter registration, “sponsored” by civic groups that were giving incentives to get people to register!
While Chigumba’s claim that CSOs are sponsoring multiple voter registration sought to expose civic groups; in fact she exposed @ZECzim : it is unacceptable that #ZEC is unable to detect & stop multiple registration instantly, when a registered voter tries to register, again!
Based on computerised Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), @ZECzim’s verification system should detect and block multiple voter registration in real time, but it’s not doing so; as designed by Laxton Group, the Chinese company that supplied #ZEC with 3,000 BVR kits in 2017!
After the 2017 coup, China’s Laxton Group, which had supplied BVR kits & designed a matching de-duplication server to detect & block multiple voter registration, lost the de-duplication tender to a US company IPPSIDY, whose system is incompatible with Laxton Group’s design!
Stuck with Chinese BVR kits & an American de-duplication server @ZECzim, whose computers are run by Africom a ZDF entity, literally uses flash sticks to capture BVR data before inputting it to the IPPSIDY server for de-duplication & storage; hence its delay & unreliability!
It is wrong for @ZECzim to accuse CSOs of sponsoring multiple voter registration; when the problem arises, in the first place, from the fact that ZEC’s verification system does not work in real time to prevent multiple registration, because it has two incompatible systems!
Fifth, the failure by @ZECzim to stop multiple voter registration through BVR technology does not exonerate CSOs some of whom are, as a matter of fact, responsible for some if not all of the multiple voter registration. The blanket denials by CSOs are false and dishonest!
There is incontrovertible evidence that some CSOs are running voter registration mobilization; and paying between USD20 and USD60 to incentivize prospective voters, aged between 18 and 25 years of age, to register. But everything that can go wrong with such a campaign, has!
Paying anyone to register to vote is a dangerous proposition for CSOs. You pay people to register to vote, how many, for how much & will you pay them to vote? And why did CSOs not check if claimants were registered, instead of using multiple voter registration slips to pay?
Attached is an example of a voter registration slip of a person registered for 2018 polls, who in 2021 was paid a USD50 coupon by a CSO, to redeem at his or hers hair salons; fuel service stations and supermarkets. Some CSOs are using this as a big scam, to make easy money!