The Institute of Security Studies in South Africa has urged Zimbabwean authorities to put a new voters roll in place before proceeding to a new round of elections, concluding in a report that the existing voters roll is so corrupted that it cannot be overhauled.
The ISS report, called “Preventing Electoral Fraud in Zimbabwe,” says Zimbabwe has some 40-thousand registered voters over 100 years old, four times the number of centenarians in Britain, while voters as young as two years are also registered.
The institute said the existing voters roll is “beyond redemption” and cannot even be used as the starting point for preparing a new national roll of voters.
Zimbabwe's three governing parties have not agreed on an election date nor have they agreed what to do about the voters roll. The former opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has long demanded a thorough purge of the voters roll to remove the deceased and fraudulent entries.
There has been little response from the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe. Mr. Mugabe has called for elections to be held this year, brushing off calls for reforms including a new voters roll.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the ISS report vindicates her group’s own call for a new roll.
Elsewhere, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has drawn criticism in Matabeleland for declaring in a rally on Sunday in Zvishavane that ZANU-PF will not allow anyone who did not participate in the 1970s liberation struggle to rule Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa told ZANU-PF supporters followers that allowing someone without liberation credentials to govern would be the same as recolonizing the country.
He said ZANU-PF has always made clear that it will not allow Western powers to regain power through the back door by funding the MDC, which he called a puppet.
Mnangagwa said ZANU-PF supporters should use the next elections, which he stressed will be held this year, to silence the opposition once and for all.
The minister added that he and the country's ancestors will not allow the MDC to take over power even if it should win the next elections.
Mnangagwa's statements angered many who fear that ZANU-PF is preparing to subvert the democratic processes by imposing its will on the people through election-related intimidation and violence, as critics of the former ruling party say it did in 2008.
Mbuso Fuzwayo, leader of Ibhetshu Likazulu, a Bulawayo-based pressure group, said the defense minister's remarks show Zimbabwe is still far from achieving democracy.
Celani Nyoni, a member of the Matabeleland provincial executive of the MDC formation of Welshman Ncube, said the statements show ZANU-PF wants to live in the past.
ZIPRA Veterans Trust Deputy Director Buster Magwizi said Mnangagwa's declarations make clear ZANU-PF is not interested in democracy or respecting election outcomes.
ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo refused to comment on Mnangagwa's statement saying he did not attend the Zvishavane rally. But he said that his party will respect all electoral outcomes even if it loses the next national ballot.