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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • No cameras or mobile phones inside polling stations
    Tichaona Sibanda, SW Radio Africa
    July 23, 2013

    View this article on the SW Radio Africa website

    All polling stations to be used in next week’s elections will be physically checked for mobile phones and hidden cameras before voters are allowed to cast their votes

    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been training its presiding and polling officers to do a physical search of the polling stations before voting commences on July 31st. The search involves a meticulous sweep of the stations for any hidden cameras.

    Voters who use or display mobile phones or cameras inside the polling station on election day will be evicted from the polling station and will likely lose their chance to vote.

    Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda, the MDC-T parliamentary candidate for Vungu in the Midlands South province, told our Election Watch program on Tuesday that the ban on the use of mobile phones and other image capturing devices is to ensure that voters do not compromise the secrecy of their ballot.

    ZEC has put in place 9,670 polling stations to be manned by a staff of more than 15,000 officers for the upcoming elections. The harmonized elections will see voters decide on the President, National Assembly members and councillors.

    The no mobile phone rule is believed to apply to everyone else inside the polling stations including polling officers, candidates, polling agents and observers. Notices will be posted outside the polling stations reminding voters to turn off and put away all their mobile phones and cameras before entering the polling station.

    ‘Besides their other shortfalls I think ZEC got it spot on, on the issue of cameras and mobile phones because people in rural areas are always lied to by Zanu-PF that they have cameras hidden inside polling stations.

    ‘The law, under the new constitution, protects the secrecy of your ballot. Persons need not fear that their vote can be traced back or persons will know who they have voted for. Once the counterfoil or stub has been removed your ballot cannot be traced back to you,’ Sibanda said. He said apart from ZEC’s efforts to conduct a credible election, the MDC-T has been training its polling agents to spot ballot-stuffing and vote-rigging in preparation for next weeks’ crucial poll.

    ‘We will be organized. We will be prepared. And we will be effective,’ he said, describing how, of the many ways to cheat in an election, the simplest was to stuff a handful of pre-marked papers into a ballot box when nobody is looking.

    Equally simple he added was the ‘merry-go-round’ technique, in which busloads of supporters are driven from one polling station to another, voting at each in turn, with the connivance of election officials.

    ‘We will be watching and we will be very vigilant, this time we will protect the vote and the voter,’ explained Sibanda.

    Sibanda’s comments were echoed by party secretary-general Tendai Biti, who wrote on his Facebook page that he’s been getting enquiries from people wanting to know if the party had a plan against the rigging.

    He said: ‘Of course, we have but surely we can’t put it on Facebook can we. But I will tell you something. We have plan A, B and C .The plan is simple. We will finish it off once and for all on 31 July 2013. They know it, we know it, you know it.’

    With just eight days to go before the poll, the number of observers jetting into the country is increasing by the day. The MDC-T hope that most regional and foreign observers will be deployed to rural areas, usually the flash points of political violence in the country.

    In the past, African Union and SADC observers have visited rural areas associated with the opposition parties, but have rarely set foot in the Zanu-PF strongholds of the three Mashonaland provinces.

    SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave 4880 KHz in the 60m band.

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