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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Special voting process marred by chaos and confusion, ZEC not ready to deliver a credible poll
    Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ)
    July 16, 2013

    The Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) visited a selection of polling stations in Banket, Chegutu, Chinhoyi, Karoi, Marondera and Magunje to observe the Special Voting process on the 14th and 15th of July 2013. The observation was aimed at assessing the state of preparedness of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the capacity, effectiveness and efficiency of the electoral management body as well as the conduciveness of the political environment for free and fair elections. The findings of this observation are aimed at informing the State authorities and subsidiary duty bearers and other stakeholders on the country's readiness for credible elections.

    Despite the high voter turnout in all observed centres, the special voting process which was meant to begin on the 14th of July 2013 country wide failed to begin at most designated polling stations due to various reasons which include but are not limited to logistical challenges such as shortage of ballot boxes, shortage of stationery and ZEC's failure to timeously deliver the special voting certificates required for the voting process. Day 2 of the special voting process was similarly characterized by chaos, disorder and confusion which surrounded the whole voting process. Whilst in some areas, some voters voted; in other areas such as Chinhoyi and Marondera, most uniformed forces and civil servants failed to vote because of they were either turned away because their names or voting certificates were not located or that they were simply fed up because of the long queues and slow pace at which they were being served.

    In Banket and Chinhoyi large numbers of police officers and civil servants were observed loitering outside the Cooksey Hall polling station as late as 16:00 hrs. CCDZ interviews revealed that only 192 officers cast their vote on Day 1 of the Special Vote at Cooksey Hall polling station in Chinhoyi. On Day 2 voting at the Cooksey Hall in Chinhoyi voting began as late as 20:15 and continued late into the night and early hours of morning instead of the stipulated starting time of 07:00hrs and ending time of 19:00hrs. CCDZ was informed that only 74 officers managed to vote on Day 2; and that although voting continued late into the night many people failed to vote because their envelopes had not arrived at the polling station. CCDZ informers revealed that challenges faced by ZEC officials included the shortage of sensitive voting materials such as indelible ink, ZEC stamps, approved voters' lists, ballot papers and ballot boxes.

    By 16:49 hrs at Dudley school in Norton, only of the 31 voters had been served out of the 271 voters present. The situation was even worse at Suri Suri Base in Chegutu where the polling agents were observed sleeping because there was no activity at all. The presiding officer explained that the soldiers have come in their numbers but unfortunately ZEC did not supply the material in order for the voting process to take place. The presiding officer explained that he had since publicized his mobile number to enable the voters to contact him for regular updates on the process. At Hartley 1 primary school polling station in Chegutu, CCDZ was informed that this polling station had received 225 ballot papers only at the time of the observation; and it was unclear whether additional ballot papers would be availed on time.

    There were chaotic scenes at the Farmers Market at Marondera due to frustration most police and prison officers on the queue were pushing and shoving trying to enter the Farmers Market where the voting was taking place. Senior police officers tried in vain to stop the jostling and rowdy officers who were uncontrollable. The attempt by Presiding Officer, Mr O. Chapwanya to restrain the officers did not yield much as the officers were impatient because they failed to vote on the 1st day of special voting on the 14th July, 2013.

    The chaos that prevailed during the special voting process serves as a telling and worrying indicator that could repeat itself on 31 July 2013.These observations pose cast serious doubt on ZEC's capacity and preparedness to deliver a credible harmonized election targeting 3 million plus voters over a one day period, given ZEC's failure to ensure that 90 000 voters cast their votes during a two day voting period.

    We reiterate our calls that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not prepared for the elections. We implore Cabinet to convene an urgent meeting and try to find common ground to salvage what is left of the 2013 harmonized elections. There is urgent need for Government to avail funds to ZEC and strengthen the electoral management body and build technical capacity of this institution to preserve the country's democratic processes.

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