Zec speaks on Di­as­pora vote

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News/worldwide - Nduduzo Tshuma in Harare

DIASPORANS will only vote in the 2018 na­tional elec­tions if they avail them­selves for the Bio­met­ric Voter Reg­is­tra­tion that will come up with the new vot­ers roll and also come back home to cast their bal­lot, the Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion chair­per­son, Jus­tice Rita Maka­rau, said yes­ter­day.

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists dur­ing a Meet the Zec Chair­per­son Fo­rum me­dia en­gage­ment at the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s of­fices in Harare, Jus­tice Maka­rau said Diasporans could only be al­lowed to vote from abroad if the Elec­toral Act is aligned to the con­sti­tu­tion.

“There are quite a few things that must hap­pen be­fore peo­ple in the Di­as­pora will be able to vote where they re­side. Peo­ple in the Di­as­pora will be able to vote as long as they come back to Zim­babwe on vot­ing day and can vote from their wards,” she said.

“Peo­ple in the Di­as­pora, like other Zim­bab­weans, once they are reg­is­tered to vote, they are free to come back and be able to cast their bal­lots in their polling sta­tion which is des­ig­nated in their ward. So there is noth­ing that stops peo­ple in the Di­as­pora from vot­ing as long as they come back.

“Whether we will be able to make them vote in the Di­as­pora, quite a few things must hap­pen and one of them is that the Elec­toral Act must be aligned to the con­sti­tu­tion and pro­vide the mech­a­nism through which the Di­as­pora vote will be ad­min­is­tered.”

Jus­tice Maka­rau said in the event that the Elec­toral Act is aligned to the con­sti­tu­tion, Zec would ei­ther set up polling sta­tions in the dif­fer­ent coun­tries where Zim­bab­weans are res­i­dent or turn em­bassies into polling sta­tions.

“That can only hap­pen once our laws are clear about that but at the mo­ment we don’t have a law pro­vid­ing for that mech­a­nism so un­til there is that le­gal frame­work gov­ern­ing the Di­as­pora vote, peo­ple in the Di­as­pora will not be able to vote where they cur­rently re­side un­less they come to Zim­babwe and vote.”

Jus­tice Maka­rau said the Diasporans should also phys­i­cally pro­vide them­selves to regis­ter as vot­ers in the new Bio­met­ric Voter Reg­is­tra­tion ex­er­cise which re­quires their pic­tures, fin­ger prints and ad­dresses in line with the polling sta­tion based reg­is­tra­tion.

She said Zec was still to se­cure the $50 mil­lion re­quired for the new voter reg­is­tra­tion but was con­fi­dent that the com­mis­sion would have enough time to regis­ter all vot­ers be­fore the 2018 elec­tions.

“We do be­lieve that the money will def­i­nitely be found. This is a na­tional ex­er­cise sup­ported by co­op­er­at­ing part­ners. Ef­forts have been made to raise part of the money and part of the money is al­ready in the kit and we do be­lieve that voter reg­is­tra­tion will be com­pleted and that there will be money for elec­tions,” said Jus­tice Maka­rau.

She said Zec has never had a bud­get for by elec­tions since 2013 but there has never been a time the elec­toral body failed to hold the polls. Jus­tice Maka­rau dis­missed the no­tion that the process was de­signed to in­tim­i­date vot­ers, say­ing the polling based vot­ing, sup­ported by Sec­tion 22A of the Elec­toral Act, would re­duce long queues and en­able smooth ad­min­is­tra­tion of the polls.

She said the Bio­met­ric Voter Reg­is­tra­tion that would come up with a new vot­ers roll would ef­fec­tively deal with the is­sue of de­ceased peo­ple on the vot­ers roll.

“The bio­met­ric voter reg­is­tra­tion kits are com­ing with soft­ware that de­tects mul­ti­ple or dou­ble regis­tra­tions. Your face and fin­ger­prints will help us to weed out all those who try to regis­ter twice,” said Jus­tice Maka­rau.

Mean­while, Jus­tice Maka­rau said there was no con­flict of in­ter­est in her be­ing chair­per­son of Zec and at the same time the sec­re­tary for the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

She chal­lenged any­one who feels there was any con­flict to raise their case with the courts.

The next me­dia en­gage­ment has been set for Fe­bru­ary next year.

Jus­tice Rita Maka­rau

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