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Zimbabweans Support Use of Biometric Voting System

FILE: People queue to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) say they support a move by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to adopt the use of a biometric voters roll.

The programme is likely to be implemented with the financial and technical support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe van Damme told VOA Studio 7 the EU will contribute funds to the electoral reform process through the UNDP and a budget proposal has already been tabled by ZEC and the government.

But the diplomat was quick to add that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and it is up to government, ZEC and opposition political parties to agree on the way forward.

The ERC says the development is critical in increasing administrative efficiency, advancing democracy in Zimbabwe and in ensuring the restoration of public confidence in electoral processes.

Biometric voting systems are highly advanced information systems that allow for the identification of millions of voters quickly and unmistakably using specific biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or the iris.

ZESN urged the commission to “urgently engage with other local electoral stakeholders including civic society organizations and political parties to expedite the process of identifying and adopting the most appropriate type of the biometric voter registration system for Zimbabwe.”

Biometric voter registration is already being used in African countries such as Nigeria, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Ghana, among several others.

ZEC insiders said that the United Nations is assisting the electoral body with technical support and funding. Efforts to get a comment from ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau were futile as she said she was in a meeting.

ZESN director, Rindai Chipfunde Vava said funding must be availed to ensure the biometric voters roll is in place before the 2018 election.

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