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Late Ex-Rhodesian PM Ian Smith Still on Zimbabwe's Voters Roll

Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith may be turning in his grave as his name is still appearing on Zimbabwe’s voters roll, five years after his death.

Utoile Silayigwana, the deputy chief elections officer of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, shocked participants at a development and planning workshop in Kwekwe Thursday when he revealed that the late Smith is still on the nation’s voters roll.

Silayigwana said this was an indication that the voters roll is in tatters, confirming claims by human rights activists that large numbers of dead people are still on the voters register.

The delegates said the situation will remain the same if the voters roll is still controlled by the Registrar-General’s Office.

Most participants suggested that a new voters’ roll should be managed by an independent electoral commission like in South Africa and other progressive countries.

The Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, a staunch supporter and relative of President Robert Mugabe, was not readily available for comment.

Human rights activists have been complaining bitterly over the years about the national voters roll.

Blatant vote rigging has been proved in Zimbabwe's courts as far back as lawmaker Margaret Dongo's case in the 1990s but Mr. Mugabe keeps holding elections that are marked by violence, intimidation and suspected ballot stuffing.

The roll of Zimbabwe's registered voters is riddled with dead voters, ghost voters and double entries.

A partial audit in 2003 showed that 25 percent of the voters listed on the roll in one constituency were non-existent.

The latest exposure was provided by the respected South African Institute for Race Relations which found that the voters' roll includes an impossible number of people over 100 years old.

The audit indicated that there were more than 40,000 centenarians - 16,800 of them born on January 1, 1901, in a country that has one of the world's lowest average life expectancies at 37 years.

Mudede has flatly denied reports that the electoral register is flawed saying "there is no country in the world with a perfect voter registration system". Staff Reporters