The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has justified the US$187 000 charge for a hard copy of the voters roll, saying it reflects the cost of its production.
It also said it could not avail an electronic voters roll to stakeholders at the moment fearing that it could be tampered with.
ZEC chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said this in a letter dated November 14 addressed to the Election Resource Centre (ERC), an independent election watchdog.
This was after Zec was given a seven-day ultimatum by ERC to release the document.
“The Zec takes note of the concerns raised by your client. The costs of providing a hard copy of the national roll is, as you acknowledge, regulated by Statutory Instrument 145 of 2022, which we believe are the reasonable costs of producing the same,” Silaigwana said.
“Regarding the provision of an electronic copy of the voters roll, we reiterate that we are in the process of enhancing the security of the electronic voters roll. We believe it is not lost to your client that there are elements that are bent on tampering with our systems and thus bring the integrity of the electoral process into disrepute. We will advise you once the processes are complete and when you can access this electronic copy.”
Early this week, ZEC accused data experts, Team Pachedu, of hacking its ICT system, and threatened to cause their arrest after the organisation exposed a number of irregularities on the voters roll.
Independent watchdogs and the opposition are demanding an independent audit of the voters roll.
Silaigwana also said ZEC was currently busy with the delimitation exercise, redrawing electoral boundaries, ahead of the 2023 elections.
“The commission is not averse to engaging or dialoguing with your client, but ask that they be patient with us as we work on a critical electoral process (delimitation of electoral boundaries), which process we must complete before year-end if the outcome thereof is to be used in the next general election. We are thus unable to engage them at this time,” Silaigwana said.
ZEC said it had started a consultative process with local authorities to split or merge wards that have registered voters above or below the average threshold.