MATABELELAND SOUTH: The ruling Zanu PF party has been accused of a controversial bid to “buy the general election” by manipulating the electorate through misuse of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) serial numbers and dolling out unsolicited donations to unsuspecting voters.
The allegations are contained in a weekly watchdog report on elections seen by The Citizen Bulletin. Despite a cautionary statement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), admonishing political parties to desist from soliciting registration information from unsuspecting registrants, reports of incidents where registrants are asked to surrender their registration information to political parties keep proliferating.
But no one has been brought to book to date, The Citizen Bulletin can reveal. The country’s general elections are set to be held between June and August this year. And, political parties have already begun canvassing for electoral support.
“Despite calls made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for political parties to desist from manipulating the electorate through misuse of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) serial numbers, this abhorrent action still continues,” the watchdog group, Habakkuk Trust, said Tuesday.
“The BVR serial numbers are being captured from registration slips that are given upon a successful registration by a claimant. It’s either the electorate is duped into believing that their vote can be traced or they can only receive government or party aid in divulging their serial numbers.”
The Citizen Bulletin has learnt that Zanu PF officials are involved in an illicit plot to hoodwink voters from Umzingwane’s Ward 5 to vote for the ruling party by promising them farming inputs and cattle. According to information received by this publication, some of the party’s officials are moving around registering voters interested in the scheme.
“It is alleged that Zanu PF is moving around the Ward promising to give cattle and farming inputs to villagers who will vote for the party,” Habakkuk Trust wrote in its weekly watchdog report.
“It is alleged that the ruling party through the village secretary is currently moving around recording details of villagers including BVR serial numbers for those who would want to be recipients of the program.
It has also been reported that a fertilizer distribution meeting is being organised for a date to be advised and villagers are being told to bring their slips in order to receive the fertilizer,” the report further reads.
Zanu PF has in the past been accused of handling government programs on partisan lines. But the party has denied the allegations.
“The abuse of BVR serial numbers by unruly elements within political parties is disturbing as it distorts electoral information resulting in a confused electorate,” the pro-democracy group charged.
“It is therefore imperative for the Commission and Civic Society Organisations to step up and educate the electorate and political parties respectively on the issue of serial numbers. If unaddressed this issue has the potential to cause fear and despondency amongst the electorate thus undermining the principle of democratic elections.”
According to ZEC statutes on elections, recording of serial numbers is deemed as a criminal offence which can attract a lengthy jail sentence or lead to the subsequent disqualification of candidates from participating in polls.
A comment from Zanu PF’s secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, could not be obtained at the time of publication.
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Source: Citizen Bulletin