The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is partnering an international non-governmental organization (NGO), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), to upgrade its systems and come up with a new voters' roll ahead of the next general election.

Last week, the electoral body said it had adopted a new biometric voter registration system, which entails voters having their digital photographs and fingerprints taken, in a bid to improve the integrity of the electoral management system.

The new system will address misgivings that opposition political parties have had over the years about the voters' roll which they argued was in shambles as it contained names of dead people, who apparently were resurrected to vote in an alleged poll rigging web.

Under the new system, the electoral body said it would next year embark on a new voter registration exercise that required every person entitled to vote to present themselves before its officials. Zimbabwe is due to hold its next general election in 2018.

"The ZEC is in the process of upgrading its information communication technology infrastructure and systems to enable implementation of the new voter register," the commission said in a statement at the weekend, adding that it was in conjunction with IFES hunting for other partners to assist in a project that will see the electoral body upgrading its national data centre set up in 2012.

Established in 1987, the United States-based IFES prides itself as a supporter of citizens' rights to participate in free and fair elections. In its 29 year history, the NGO says it has assisted 145 countries to develop and manage their electoral systems.

The ZEC has already admitted that lack of trust by political parties and voters was one of the biggest challenges that it is aiming to address ahead of the 2018 polls. And a new voters' roll is one of the strategies hoped will instill confidence in the elections management system.

"The dead will not be on the voters roll as they will not be able to come and present themselves for registration (next year) and to that extent the voters roll is going to be clean," said ZEC Chairperson Justice Rita Makarau last week.

The ZEC requires 50 million US dollars to acquire the biometric voter registration system and is yet to secure the funding but is optimistic it will be mobilized in time.