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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Why ZEC must seek poll postponement
    Election Resource Centre
    July 17, 2013

    With less than two weeks to go before the 31st of July 2013, it is becoming clear that the processes leading to the date have been mired in controversy and turmoil, threatening the credibility of the next poll. An incomprehensive voter registration exercise compounded by a contested voters’ roll which remains shrouded in secrecy and worsened by the chaos which characterized the just ended special voting exercise is indicative of the possibility of a dispute riddled election.

    In that regard, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) exhorts the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to take the lead in demanding and requesting for the postponement of the poll in fulfilment of the general principles of democratic elections compelling the commission to ensure that elected leaders must emerge from the will of the people which is demonstrated through elections that are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and properly, subject to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Electoral Act.

    In view of the foregoing, the ERC believes that there is enough basis to guide ZEC in considering a postponement of the imminent election and by so doing help safeguard the credibility of not just the electoral body but the impending process as a whole;

    1. A muddled voter registration exercise: The Registrar- General of Voters, under the supervision of the ZEC conducted the mobile voter registration exercise amidst an outcry from Zimbabweans on the limited accessibility to the services by a significant number of prospective voters. The two mobile voter registration processes were poorly publicized, with ordinary citizens lacking information on how and where they were supposed to register as voters. The result was that a significantly large number of Zimbabweans were denied the opportunity to register as voters, and will be unable to participate in the scheduled poll.

    2. A riotous special voting process: ZEC conducted a chaotic special voting process, marred by late delivery of ballot envelopes, late opening of polling stations, alleged intimidation of junior police officers and a shortage of voting material such indelible ink, approved voters’ rolls and ballot boxes. The conduct by the commission was in contravention of Section 81E (1) of the Electoral Act, that states that ZEC has to set up special voting stations at the district centres, and that these stations must be ready for voting on the first day fixed for special voting. At this point it remains unclear how many of those eligible to vote using the special vote managed to do so following ZEC’s show of inefficiency. The Commission`s failure to print and deliver only 80 000 ballots and to operate 209 polling stations properly is indicative of the flawed nature of the poll that will be conducted on the 31st July 2013. Clearly the special voting process exposed the fact that due to the time constraints ZEC is encumbered with huge logistical burdens which they are most likely to face again if elections are to continue on the 31st of July 2013.

    3. A shambolic voter’s roll: With less than two weeks to go before the election, ZEC is yet to release the final voters roll that will be used for the poll. There have been reservations on the state of the voters’ roll, with reports that over a million people have been struck off the roll in mysterious circumstances and that 63 constituencies have more registered voters than inhabitants (Research and Advocacy Unit, July 2013). Approaching any election with such unexplained flaws on the voters’ roll inevitably leads to a disputed election.

    4. Violation of the Constitution: ZEC’s inability to roll out processes that will lead to a free and fair election is in itself a violation of its constitutional mandate, which requires ZEC to conduct free and fair elections.

    5. A real possibility for instability and bloodshed: If ZEC goes ahead to press for a July 31st election when all signs point to the fact that it is ill-prepared to conduct a credible election, there is a likelihood that the agitation and chaos that obtained during the special voting process where police details almost turned riotous, will be replicated on a bigger scale on the actual polling day as eligible voters will not accept being denied the right the vote. On its own, ZEC’s lack of preparedness is a security threat that can spawn instability in the country and reverse all the gains that Zimbabwe stands to benefit from the conduct of a free and fair election.

    The ERC firmly believes that Zimbabwe cannot afford another disputed election and it is compelling for all electoral stakeholders especially ZEC to provide practical guidance to the executive and related authorities on the near impossibility of conducting a transparent and credible election by the 31st of July 2013.

    Visit the Election Resource Centre fact sheet

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