Commissioner Netsai Mushonga of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, (pictured) today confirmed our exclusive revelation on this blog that there have been attempts to hack into Voters' Roll already. 

Zimbabwe Electoral Commissioner Mushonga confirmed today on Zifm what we revealed in our exclusive post about attempts to hack into the Voters' Roll when it was made available online and through USSD.

Sources had also confirmed that these attempts, which were unsuccessful, contributed to suspicions within ZEC around motivations for what the Commission saw as attempts to stampede it into releasing the roll electronically.

Commissioner Mushonga, speaking during an interview on Zifm earlier today, revealed, "When we made the Voters' Roll available online and through USSD (for the verification exercise), there were attempts to hack into it."

After the attempts to hack into it, our understanding is that the Chinese cyber experts currently said to be in Zimbabwe were tasked first of all with examining if any information had been compromised. After that, their next task was to secure the roll on an "iron-clad" server.

Several opposition players have also been demanding to know the location of the servers from ZEC, prominent amongst them being the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance. ZEC has refused to disclose this information and questions why that information is necessary.

"The location of the server is irrelevant. People have the Voters' Roll now. They can check it and analyse it," said a high-ranking source within ZEC. "We recommend they pick random samples of voters and cross-check in whatever manner they see fit or use any other rigorous methods they may have. Look, each candidate, each political party and each individual who wanted and got a copy now has it. So, they know the number of voters in each ward and each constituency. We recommend they check again after results are announced. If a constituency with 10 000 registered voters suddenly has 20 000 votes cast after results are announced, then they can raise a stink. That is also another way to check," said the source.

The absence of any information, even from former ZANU PF big players, about how exactly alleged rigging has taken place in the past has thrown the opposition into a quandary. They have no idea where exactly to look on the roll.

Opposition activists have also now raised a stink after getting the Voters' Roll, saying the supplied roll does not contain the addresses of people who are registered. They claim this makes it impossible for them to verify that these voters actually live in any said ward or constituency.

An urgent lawsuit to declare the supplied Voters' Roll illegal is being being mooted by the opposition. This comes as The European Union in Zimbabwe revealed that they and their partners got a roll that is complete with addresses and indicating wards for voters.

But ZEC says even the argument against a supplied voters' roll without addresses would not have flown. They are confident that if any such action were to be launched, it would be defeated "within a day".

"The law does not say ZEC has to supply to candidates or to the public a Voters' Roll that has addresses on it. What the law demands is that ZEC must keep a Roll that contains that information. People's privacy is also an obligation we take seriously. We could not get away from supplying ID numbers and the like," says the ZEC source. "But addresses are one of those things that would make it incredibly easy for this database to be abused."

The source also pointed out that people are not barred from examining this information, including addresses.

"The law provides, for example, for anyone to come to our offices and go through the Voters' Roll, complete with addresses. The law also says they can take notes and so on during this process."

The hacking attempts now confirmed by ZEC have made the Commission even more circumspect about how it treats the Roll.


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