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Midday situational statement - Constitutional Referendum
Election Support Network
March 16, 2013
As of mid-day,
ZESN observers report that the opening of polling
in the Constitutional Referendum appears to have proceeded smoothly
except for some polling stations that opened late and some stations
that experienced problems.
ZESN has deployed
600 observers in the country’s 210 constituencies. Based on
reports received from ZESN observers, about one in ten polling stations
did not open on time due to the late arrival of polling officials
and/or materials. At a few polling stations, observers reported
missing ZEC official stamps, indelible ink or ballot papers.
ZESN has received
reports of the presence of police officers inside polling stations,
yet Section 19 of the Electoral
Act as read with Schedule 2 of the Electoral Regulations 2005
as amended by Statutory Instrument 32 of 2008 states that only members
of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, electoral officers on duty,
election agents and accredited observers are allowed within the
There are isolated
reports of police officers and polling officials assisting citizens
to vote. Some of these voters have had their vote made public by
the officials who assisted them. In one case the official assisting
three elderly women was overheard instructing them to vote ‘yes’.
This violates the electorate’s right to a secret ballot. Individuals
who require assistance should be allowed to select a person of their
choice (who is not a police officer or polling official) to assist
them to vote.
Section 59 (1)(a)
of Electoral Act states that a voter who is illiterate or physically
handicapped is allowed to be assisted by someone of their choosing
who does not need to be a registered voter and cannot be a minor,
electoral officer, accredited observer, chief election agent, election
agent or a candidate in the election. The only requirement is to
identify themselves to the presiding officer by producing proof
of identity, and signing the register. A person may not assist more
than one voter in any election.
Section 59 (1) (b) of the same states that in the absence of a person
of their choice, the voter may be assisted by the presiding officer
in the presence of two other electoral officers or employees of
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and a police officer on duty.
ZESN has always condemned the presence of the police when voters
are being assisted. ZESN firmly believes that the presence of four
people assisting a voter compromises the secrecy of the vote.
A ZESN observer
has reported the presence of a Zanu PF official in Mataga, Midlands
Province, positioned within a five-metre radius of the polling station
taking down names of the people who are voting. Similar incidents
have been reported in other provinces. “This is seen as a
calculated move to intimidate the electorate ahead of the harmonized
elections,” states the ZESN chairperson, Reverend Dr Solmon
ZESN will continue
to observe voting throughout the day and the counting process at
the end of the day. ZESN will observe the collation of results at
ZEC Constituency Centres.
Visit the ZESN
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