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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Crisis Report Issue 200
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    July 16, 2013

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    Special Vote chaos dents 2013 election

    The special voting for members of the security forces, which began on Sunday, July 14 and ended on Monday, 15 July 2013, has been described as chaotic by observers amid logistical inefficiencies.

    Reports coming from many parts of the country on Sunday, July 14, indicated that the first day of the special voting had been marred by slowness of the process, insufficient ballot papers, late opening of the polling stations and even failure of some polling stations to open.

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) spokesperson Thabani Nyoni said the confusion could show Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s lack of preparation. “The way ZEC has conducted the special voting so far has convinced even the doubting Thomases that delivering a credible election to the people of Zimbabwe will be a miracle.”

    “The people of Zimbabwe deserve a full explanation before an apology,” Nyoni said.

    Nyoni cited late opening of voting centres, absence of a printed copy of the voters’ roll, no ink, and no ballot paper as a sign that ZEC might have been misleading Zimbabweans about its state of preparedness.

    Voting reportedly failed to take place in Umguza on July 14 as ballot papers are reported to have arrived around 1500hrs while in some places the papers did not arrive.

    Police officers were still waiting for the ballot papers at Mt. Selinda High in Chipinge and St Columbus High School in Mutasa North well after 10.00 am on the second day of voting on July 15 which could have been some of the extreme cases.

    An estimated 69 000 police officers, 2000 prison officers, 164 soldiers and ZEC officials have reportedly applied to vote in the special voting exercise which is set aside for those civil servants who will not be able to vote on July 31 due to work commitments such as ensuring peace and security during the harmonized elections.

    The security forces who ostensibly applied for the special voting are believed to be more than the entire force, raising questions from analysts whether it is true that all police officers are registered voters and whether the number is realistic.

    The actual police compliment of Zimbabwe as per the civil servants salary schedule is pegged at 41 133 according to Hon. Tendai Biti who presides over the Ministry of Finance.

    Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba reportedly defended the numbers arguing the force had been swelled by inclusion of the police constabulary, which is a reserve force.

    Youth Agenda Trust (YAT) criticized the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for the way it handled the special voting exercise, alleging that police details in some areas were being coerced to write down the serial numbers of their ballot papers for inspection by their seniors.

    “YAT is also disturbed to note that ZEC was not even able to open polling stations on time, provide enough voting material and was seriously understaffed. As Youth Agenda, we feel that the chaos that we saw was stage managed and deliberately created to manipulate the outcome of the elections.”

    “YAT is also now convinced that information circulating in the media that ZEC and the Registrar General’s office are working with a shadowy Israeli organisation to rig the July 31 elections is true and that the two government entities are not willing to conduct a free and fair election,” the youth organisation said.

    Tamuka Chirimambowa, a political scientist said that he believed the bungling by ZEC was a deliberate ploy, querying why a Commission, which was not sufficiently prepared for elections, insisted they were prepared.

    “If ZEC creates a shambolic election, in the event of a Zanu-PF defeat it will create grounds of contesting the outcome. Given the politicized nature of the judiciary such a court challenge will provide plan B for Zanu-PF to impede the transition to democracy in Zimbabwe,” said Chirimambowa, adding the Electoral Act has already been violated by the delays caused by late arrival of ballot papers.

    The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said its observers had noted that at Dangababi Primary School in Bubi District Matabeleland North voting commenced at 1500 hours, while at Fatima High School in Lupane District and Bubi Tatazela Hall the ballot papers only arrived after 14.00 hrs on July 14.

    ZESN also complained in a statement that Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) had not kept the nation abreast on how many people registered in the last phase of mobile voter registration which ended on July 9.

    ZEC gave updates on how many people it had registered in the earlier phase carried out in May. ZESN bemoaned the low number of young people on the Zimbabwean voters’ roll as per June 19 as compared to other countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Zambia.

    “ZESN is also very concerned about the distribution of polling stations released on 10 July as compared to the official registration figures from 19 June.”

    “Twenty percent (75 of 394) of urban wards have more than 1,000 voters per polling. Of particular note, Epworth Local Board Ward 7 has 7,920 registered voters, but only one polling station.”

    “Unlike the Constitutional Referendum voters will be required to vote in the ward in which they are registered,” the organization said, emphasizing its forecast that there could be congestion on the polling stations in urban areas.

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