Controversy over access to the National Register of Voters and non-compliance with the provisions of Electoral (Registration of Voters) Decree 54 of 2012.
(Reference our telephone conversation this morning)
I write following the recent media controversy over access to the National Register of Voters.
Under Section 11 of the decree(Publication of the National Register of Voters), the Permanent Secretary is required to “at least once in a year” publish the National Register of Voters.
We note that the Register was not published last year and urge you to publish it this year as required by law.
We further draw your attention to Section 13 of the decree which requires the Permanent Secretary to, at least once every six months, publish in the Gazette and in the daily newspaper, a notice listing the names of all persons whose names have been removed from the Register. This has not been complied with. If no names were removed, the notice should so state but it must be published.
In terms of accessibility of the National Register of Voters to the general public, we note that Section 15 requires the Register to be kept for public inspection at the office of the Permanent Secretary or “at such other convenient places” as the Minister or Permanent Secretary may specify.
May I suggest that in keeping with past practice and the need for transparency and credibility in such matters, the Register be also made available for public inspection at other convenient places such as post offices, district offices or municipal and provincial council offices. Members of the public shouldn’t be forced to travel long distances to access it.
Section 16 of the decree permits registered voters to make an objection to the inclusion of the name of any other person on the National Register of Voters. This will not be possible unless it is accessible to them in a published (printed) form at convenient locations mentioned above.
We note that currently the Register is hidden from the public view. It is held in electronic format and accessible only by selected members of your staff who have its access code. This can hardly be construed to mean … “ the Register is accessible to the public”, as claimed by the Attorney General.
You confirmed that soft copies would not be made available to political parties or individuals as a decision on this has yet to be made. If that is so, then it shows a reluctance on the part of the authorities to observe the rules of transparency and to comply with the law.
I shall be grateful for your response to the issues raised herein in due course.