THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Over 5 million register to vote
Tandayi Motsi, The Herald (Zimbabwe)
March 24, 2005

A TOTAL of 5 789 912 people countrywide have been registered as voters in the updated and credible version of the voters’ roll ahead of next week’s parliamentary election, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Justice George Chiweshe said yesterday.

Briefing hundreds of local and international election observers on the poll preparations, Justice Chiweshe said the process of compiling the voters’ roll had been completed.

"The voters’ roll can now be accessed by political parties and members of the public at a fee. Our preparations for the election are at an advanced stage and printing of ballot papers is expected to be completed today (yesterday)," he said.

"Processing of postal ballots is currently on under the watchful eyes of all the contesting candidates."

Justice Chiweshe said the training of constituency election officers had been completed while presiding officers would be trained on Saturday and polling officers on Sunday.

The election officers would be deployed to the all the 120 constituencies next Tuesday while a total of 50 000 translucent ballot boxes had already been dispatched to the provinces for onward delivery to the constituencies.

Responding to questions from the observers on concerns by the MDC on the state of the voters’ roll, Justice Chiweshe said contrary to the claims by the opposition party, evidence on the ground so far showed that the roll was not in shambles.

"We have written to the MDC asking how we can conduct an audit of the voters’ roll and we have also asked them to give us an example of a country that has done such an audit and how it has done it. We haven’t heard any response from them on that particular matter," he said.

The audit of the voters’ roll, Justice Chiweshe said, was normally done in the form of inspection of the roll.

He assured the observers that the commission was neutral, adding that although it had received complaints from the contesting political parties, it would not jump to conclusions as there were rules and regulations that needed to be followed.

Justice Chiweshe said the ZEC had not faced any political problems as it was an independent body conducting its duties professionally.

He said one of the political parties — which he said he was not at liberty to disclose -- had written to the commission indicating its intention to pull out of the national multi-party liaison committee.

"One of the political parties has written saying it does not want to participate in the committee and we are going to talk with them over the issue," Justice Chiweshe said.

The national multi-party liaison committee is made up of all the political parties and independent candidates contesting the election. Its role includes acting as a safety valve in conflict resolution.

The ZEC national logistics committee, Justice Chiweshe said, had assessed the situation on the ground in four provinces and indications were that peace was prevailing.

The commission had visited Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces and would soon go on a similar mission in the remaining provinces.

Justice Chiweshe said the commission had established a national results centre at the Harare International Conference Centre where incoming results of the election would be announced to the media.

"We should be able to get all results within 48 hours after the close of the polling stations," he said.

Addressing the same gathering, Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) chairman Mr Theophilus Gambe urged the observers to conduct themselves in an objective and impartial manner.

"The ESC is ready for the elections. It will bank on your observations and would like to learn from you. You should conduct yourselves objectively and in an impartial manner that will enhance democracy in Zimbabwe," he said.

Observers, Mr Gambe said, were not allowed to interfere with the electoral process and should not wear regalia likely to associate them with any of the contesting political parties.

They were also not allowed to interview, obstruct or accost voters.

Any irregularities noted by the observers should be brought to the attention of the ESC election monitors.

Mr Gambe said observers were expected to submit a preliminary report covering the pre-election period and a post-election comprehensive report.

There would be 32 000 election monitors drawn from the civil service with two monitors being deployed inside each polling station, while another two monitors would be outside every polling station.

In addition to this, there would be provincial co-ordinators and supervisors in each of the country’s provinces.

Mr Gambe commended Zimbabweans for the political tolerance and peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the country ahead of the poll.

He briefed the observers on the electoral reforms that are in line with the Southern African Development Community guidelines governing democratic elections.

Mr Gambe said the political playing field had been levelled with all contesting parties and candidates having equal access to national radio and television.

Responding to questions from some observers, Mr Gambe said there was no evidence to support allegations that some traditional chiefs and headmen were threatening their subjects with expulsion in the event that they would not vote for Zanu-PF.

One of the local observers, Mr Paddington Japajapa, had alleged that some chiefs and headmen in several parts of the country were threatening to expel their subjects in resettlement farms if they voted for the opposition.

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.