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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Zimbabwe's chaotic early voting a bad omen
Takudzwa Munyaka, Mail and Guardian (SA)
July 19, 2013
If the special
voting process conducted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
this week is anything to go by, then Zimbabwe’s
July 31 poll will be a nightmare.
The lack of
readiness, owing to time constraints and limited funds, was evident
during the special voting by security forces on Sunday and Monday.
Police and other
members of the uniformed services were due to cast their ballots
over the two days as they will be on duty on election day. But that
voting was marred by logistical chaos.
It emerged this
week that the ZEC had still not received adequate funding from the
treasury, with just over a week before the polls.
body asked for $133-million, but had only received $38-million by
Most of that
money has been used for voter registration, the sitting of the nomination
court for candidates and the special voting process.
Last week, ZEC
chairperson Rita Makarau said she was expecting the treasury to
release an additional $95-million, but Finance Minister Tendai Biti
said the government did not have the funds.
has changed. We do not have the money,” said Biti this week.
Charity Charamba said the chaos during special voting was due to
delays caused by the MDC-T’s court challenges over the electoral
But MDC-T spokesperson
Douglas Mwonzora told the Mail & Guardian that the delays had
nothing to do with his party.
clear that the ZEC is ill-prepared and it’s also clear that
the decision to fast-track the election without the necessary preparations
and resources has backfired. We are in this position because of
Zanu-PF’s foolishness and hard-headedness,” he said.
At some centres,
voting could not take place on Sunday because ballot papers were
of ballot papers
The ZEC said
it had been unable to print enough ballots because of problems with
printers and candidates who had submitted photographs late.
extended into Monday and, in some cases, Tuesday. On Monday evening,
at the Town House voting centre in Harare, the anti-riot squad arrived
to control policemen who were trying to force their way into the
polling station after spending several hours waiting for ballots
The police said
they had also spent all of Sunday queuing to vote. There were also
reports of frustrated police breaking windows in Mount Pleasant
The delays and
ensuing chaos have resulted in questions being asked about how the
ZEC, which could not properly manage the 80 000 special voters in
two days, will cope with six million registered voters in one day
in the harmonised elections.
Biti, who is
also the MDC-T secretary general, said his party had observed numerous
Among them was
the late deployment of ballot papers and the wrong papers being
sent to constituencies, such as Mazowe North’s ballot papers
being sent to Bindura.
roll not used
He said that
in Mashonaland Central presiding officers refused to sign off the
voting tallies with election agents at the end of the vote.
At some centres
such as Mabvuku, Biti said, the voters’ roll was not used,
and in certain areas MDC-accredited agents and monitors were expelled.
who asked not to be named told the M&G that the commission had
resorted to desperate measures.
trying everything within our means to make things work, but we are
limited by the lack of financial resources. We have really done
our best, even bending over backwards to negotiate credit from our
service providers. We are in a dilemma because time is running out,”
said one official.
sought funding for its polls from the international community, including
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The UNDP helped
to fund Zimbabwe’s constitution-making exercise, but the body
wanted to send an election assessment team to the country before
The team was
blocked, however, after it said it wanted to meet members of civil
society, diplomats, churches and political parties. Harare turned
down its offer.
sought funding from the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
but nothing has materialised.
leaders have invested so much time and effort in Zimbabwe,”
said an SADC diplomat in Harare.
was ready to assist, but the controversy surrounding the electoral
process has not been helpful. No one wants to fund a sham election.”
for the chaos, saying the ZEC will ensure that those who failed
to cast their ballot this week can do so on July 31.
But the MDC-T’s
Mwonzora said that legally anybody who had applied for a special
vote should not vote in the normal election.
He said the
MDC did not want anyone to be disenfranchised, but asked the ZEC
to produce the numbers of those who were not able to vote “because
there is a real danger of double voting”.
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