Bloomberg News

Zimbabwe’s Electoral Register Has ‘Impossible’ Centenarian Count

June 03, 2011

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s electoral register is flawed and won’t allow for a credible election in the southern African nation, the South African Institute of Race Relations said.

The registrar general, Tobaiwa Mudede, should be replaced ahead of a referendum, expected to take place this year, and elections, the Johannesburg-based institute, known as SAIRR, said in a report published on its website. SAIRR said Mudede supports President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and that the register has “an impossible figure” of more than 40,000 people older than 100 years.

“In practice, a referendum held when there is such controversy over phantom voters would be bound to be challenged,” the institute said.

Mugabe has called for elections to be held this year, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, wants a new constitution in place before a vote. The parties formed a coalition government in 2009 after the MDC accused Zanu-PF of electoral-fraud and violence during a 2008 election. The country, which has the second biggest reserves of platinum after neighboring South Africa, has a population of about 12 million people.

The voters register contains names of 132,540 people more than 90 years-old, 4,368 of who didn’t appear on previous rolls, SAIRR said. The report is based on a digital copy of Zimbabwe’s October 2010 voters’ roll, which hasn’t been publicly released.

Extremely Dangerous

Given that the average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is less than 45, the number of people older than 90 “is completely incredible,” it said. The register contains more than 41,199 centenarians, “an impossible figure,” SAIRR said. A total of 16,828 names on the roll were for people born on Jan. 1, 1901, it said.

The voters register “is not only a wholly incredible document but an extremely dangerous one, which lends itself to all manner of electoral manipulation and ballot stuffing,” SAIRR said.

The list of potential voters used in Zimbabwe’s previous parliamentary and presidential elections contained “at least” 2 million fictitious voters, it said.

The register “isn’t a matter of dispute and has always been largely accurate,” Mudede said by phone from Harare, the capital.

For News and Information: On Zimbabwean Politics: TNI ZIMB POL <GO> Top African Stories: AFTO <GO>

--Editors: Gordon Bell, Alastair Reed

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham in Johannesburg at blatham@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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