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Chaotic special voting worrying ahead of harmonised elections
Election Support Network
July 15, 2013
Election Support Network (ZESN) is observing the special voting
process for uniformed forces and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
officials in all parts of the country. During the two days of the
special voting, ZESN observers deployed at all special voting polling
centres noted that the process was marred by serious logistical
ZESN notes that the process
continues to be disorganised an indication that ZEC was unprepared
to conduct the special voting process.
On Sunday 14 July 2013,
observers reported challenges that included the late opening
of polling stations, shortage of sensitive voting materials such
as indelible ink, ZEC stamps, approved voters’ lists, ballot
papers and ballot boxes. In addition, on the first day of voting
and in most areas in the country voting began as late as 1600hrs
instead of the stipulated time of 0700hrs by ZEC and continued late
into the night and early hours of morning. However, observers reported
that although voting continued late into the night many people failed
to vote because their envelopes had not arrived at the polling station.
In Masvingo voting only
started today but with several reports of outstanding deliveries
of special voting envelopes. In other districts, ZESN observers
at Seke Kunaka Clinic in Mashonaland East province, have reported
that voting had not even commenced by lunchtime. Similar reports
were received from Macheke in Mashonaland East province, Zvemukonde
in Midlands province, Mamina Primary School in Mashonaland West
In Beitbridge, Matebeleland
South by 1000hrs, 37 voters had been turned away because their names
were not on the voters’ roll. This was also prevalent in other
ZESN observers also reported
that, voting is continuing but at a very slow pace. At Lupane Primary
School in Matabeleland North voters who are on the voters’
roll could not cast their ballots because their special vote envelopes
had not yet arrived by lunchtime today. The polling station was
expecting 119 special vote envelopes and had only received 13 envelopes.
At Chinotimba Hall in Hwange in Matabeleland North province, by
0700hrs only 63 special vote envelopes were available out of the
544 expected special vote envelopes.
ZESN noted inconsistencies
with the voters’ roll availability with some polling stations
having informal handwritten lists such as at Mt Pleasant Hall and
Town House in Harare. In addition we have also received with concern
reports that some senior police officers were bringing their own
lists for use at some polling stations. This is in contrary to the
provisions of Section 81D (2) (c) of the Electoral Act which stipulates
that each polling station should have an approved list coming from
the Chief Elections Officer. In addition the law also requires the
Chief Elections Officer to keep a consolidated list of all Special
Voters which is open to the public for inspection at any time before
the announcement of the final results. We therefore urge ZEC to
avail this list for public scrutiny.
Given the logistical
flaws, ZESN is extremely concerned that thousands of uniformed forces
might have been disenfranchised as the law requires all approved
special vote applicants to be crossed out from the main voters’
roll before the final election date.
It is only prudent that
ZEC considers extending the special voting to ensure that all those
issued with permission to cast special votes are given the opportunity
to do so.
thus far, reveal an urgent need for ZEC to immediately put in place
proper logistical provisions that ensure the smooth running of the
harmonised elections and a firm assurance to the public.
The issue of the voters’
roll remains a contentious issue and we reiterate the need for ZEC
to ensure that an updated voters’ roll is easily accessible
to the public for inspection in in both hard copy and web-based
ZESN is seriously concerned
that the chaos that prevailed during the special voting process
serves as a telling and worrying indicator that could repeat itself
on 31 July. We are concerned that with only 16 days to the harmonised
elections, this shoddy state of affairs could impact on ZEC’s
preparedness to fully manage the election process on 31 July 2013.
We urge that adequate resources are availed to ZEC to ensure that
the organisation carries out its constitutionally mandated duties.
Prior to special voting
ZESN noted several incidents of intimidation and arrests of human
rights campaigners on allegations of breaching the Electoral Act
contrary to the promotion of a free environment in which civil society
can operate unrestricted. Such practices are inconsistent with fundamental
rights and freedoms, and with democratic standards of civic education
that allows people to make informed choices during election time.
ZESN remains committed
to promoting a free and fair election where each eligible voter
has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
Visit the ZESN
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