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Zimbabwe looks to banish 'ghost voters'

By , ITWeb
Zimbabwe , 21 Sep 2017

Zimbabwe looks to banish 'ghost voters'

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has officially launched a biometric voter registration (BVR) system.

According to a report published in the Herald, the country's president Robert Mugabe joined ZEC representatives in a demonstration of the technology, and was officially the first person to be registered on the system.

Voter registration has now been opened in the country ahead of the 2018 elections.

Mugabe is quoted as saying, "Let me take this opportunity to congratulate ZEC for continuously spearheading research and development in the electoral field in Zimbabwe as evidenced by the introduction of the BVR. As Government, we stand guided by our constitution and ZEC on how elections are to be run in this country. The constitution of Zimbabwe enjoins government to play a facilitative role in terms of resourcing and protecting the independence, impartiality, and integrity of such institutions."

According to a Guardian online report in the country's previous election, the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) conducted an audit of the voters roll and confirmed that 27% of people registered to vote were in fact deceased.

The country's Movement for Democratic Change accused Mugabe of counting "ghost voters" in his own favour and demanded a new electoral register.

Similar systems were also used in the recent elections held in Kenya and Rwanda. While there was a degree of success in Rwanda, according to regional media reports, Kenya made headlines after the initial results were officially nullified by the country's Supreme Court over claims of hacking and system manipulation and an order issued to host re-elections.

Koffi Kouakou, Managing Director at Stratum Futures says there is a need for trust, transparency and accuracy within election processes in Africa.

"In Zimbabwe, it will be a good thing to (have) these technologies, because if we have a technology that's good enough, that's tamper proof enough, we can have fair elections. But the trust factor and reputation, in this case, will be unique because as you know, evidence says that there are certain factors that can be used to tamper with technology, and most importantly is the human factor."

"What we saw in Kenya was really the human mistrust element that really gave it a bad feeling; I mean US$24 million was spent on the Kenyan electoral ICT system, to make it tamper proof."

Kouakou says the BVR of Zimbabwe will only be trusted if the people who are behind its management are trustworthy. "But guess what? We don't trust much President Mugabe and his people, so even if they/ Herald is telling us that the head of the registration is cleaning up the database for registration and it will be well done, trust will be mixed if not very low."

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