Nearly a third of Zimbabwe’s 5,5-million registered voters are dead, research has found. Others appear to be up to 120 years old, improbably outstripping the country’s average life expectancy of 43.
The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said the country’s electoral roll was a “shambles” and should be overhauled before fresh elections, which could be held this year.
A new electoral register is a key demand of the Movement for Democratic Change , which has accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of counting “ghost voters” in its own favour.
After conducting an audit of the roll, the ZESN reported that 27% of people registered to vote were dead.
“The computer test revealed that 2 344 people born between 1901 and 1909, therefore aged between 101 and 110 years, were on the voters’ roll,” it said. “Nine people born between 1890 and 1900, aged between 111 and 120 years, are registered voters.”
Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 43 years, according to the World Health Organisation. Mugabe will soon turn 87.
The ZESN report found that 41% of voters had moved without updating their details.
About 52% of men were registered, compared with 48% of women. “This is unusual considering there are more women in the country than men,” said the ZESN chair, Tino Bere. Young people were underrepresented, with only 18% registered. “There ought to be a lot more than that,” Bere said.
The Zanu-PF government has been criticised for maintaining only paper editions of the register, which are harder to search and cross-check than electronic versions. “The voters’ roll needs to be available to the public and it needs to be available freely and easily,” Bere said.
The ZESN said the problems opened the way for “double voting and other rigging intentions”.
Last year Tongai Matutu, an MP for the Movement for Democratic Change, claimed the roll contained 503 dead people — all of whom had supposedly been born on January 1 1901.
He said the anomaly showed “the extent to which the voters’ roll represents the graveyard”. – guardian.co.uk