Staff Reporter – The Zimbabwe Daily
Harare, Zimbabwe – With the rate Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving across the world, it’s now an adapt or abort situation.
However, some members of the country’s political divide still think AI’s penetration into the country is still a milestone especially when it comes to elections.
“While e-voting may be a noble idea to address issues of convenience, like all innovations that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) may introduce, e-voting needs to be piloted fully. This is against the backdrop that the majority of Zimbabweans are in rural areas so issues of accessibility and affordability of technology come into question hence, there arises a need for comprehensive voter education to ensure eligible voters keep abreast with technological advancements,” said Emilia Bundo, Media and Information Officer at the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
Dr. Maxwell Shumba Rusike, president of ZimFirst also alluded to the fact that the country was yet to embrace such an innovation.
“Introduction of e-voting and election technologies might not be feasible for 2023 but in the following election the country has to strive for that. There are two fundamental issues that need to be addressed for Zimbabwe to be ready to implement e-voting.
Firstly, Zimbabwe does not have the financial muscle that is needed to purchase the equipment for e-voting and election related technologies. There are also other cost factors like the induction, training and piloting that need to be factored in.
Secondly, e-voting has a legal and constitutional implication thus, the country’s constitution has to make provisions for this,” said the ZimFirst leader.
LEAD president, Linda Masarira also acknowledged the need of having e-voting but also queried the issue of funds and AI penetration.
“Funds permitting, I think it would be a wise idea though the biggest challenge would be on how to get the 70 percent rural electorate to vote. Zimbabwe is not that technologically advanced. There would be need for a feasibility study using by-elections to determine if Zimbabwe is indeed ready for online voting.
However, e-voting is the way to go to achieve world class, efficient and smart voting. Online voting helps maintain ballot secrecy and reduces costs through simple and efficient election management. I firmly believe that e-voting will help us receive legally valid results and conduct online elections according to democratic principles.
Moreso, this will assist Zimbabwe to get out of the rigging mantra and disputed elections every electoral year,” said Masarira.