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ZEC Extends Special Voting Time Amid Bungling Concerns

  • Thomas Chiripasi

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was Monday forced to extend voting hours to midnight to allow security forces to cast ballots in the early two-day election that was marred by delays over lack of ballot papers, ink and other essentials.

Coming just two weeks ahead of the crucial harmonized elections, ZEC's failure to run the poll has raised concerns that the July 31 election may be equally affected, especially as the electoral body has been asking government for more resources to no avail.

Analysts charge ZEC was rushed by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party into running an election in the absence of adequate funding.

Scores of uniformed police officers waited outside polling stations across the country as they waited for voting materials to arrive.

The special voting entered its second and last day Monday with many eligible voters failing to cast their ballots owing to logistical challenges that ZEC kept promising it was going to address.

Thousands of early voters from the police, army and ZEC staff, applied for special voting ahead of the July 31st national elections as they would not be in their constituencies on voting day.

In Mazowe, ballot papers ran out after only 6 people had cast their votes while voting started well after mid-day in Masvingo province because voting material only arrived just before noon.

Voting did not take place throughout Masvingo province yesterday owing to ZEC's failure to execute its mandate and ballot papers had to be flown in this morning to enable voters to cast their ballots.

In Harare, ballot papers were also in short supply resulting in voters spending the whole day in queues with no activity. At the time of going to air, some voters were still in queues at polling stations. At Mt. Pleasant hall polling station, where some irate police officers smashed windows in protest of delays by ZEC Sunday to provide voting material, officers were late Monday still waiting to cast their ballots.

Reports from Lupane in Matabeleland North province indicate that most officers returned home in the afternoon after failing to cast their ballots due to the absence of voting material.

ZEC deputy chairperson, Joyce Kazembe said her commission will do all it can to ensure those eligible to vote will cast their ballots.

"The special voting polling station operates on the basis of an ordinary polling station," said Kazembe. "If there are people still within the precincts of the polling station that would have gotten there before the stipulated time, they would be allowed to vote."

Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairperson Solomon Zwana said the national elections will be a sham if irregularities noted in the two-day special voting exercise are repeated come July 31.

Meanwhile, MDC-T activists in Marondera Monday accused Zanu PF of campaigning within 100 meters of voting stations, which is against the law.

President Robert Mugabe was at Rudhaka Stadium where Zanu PF was holding a star rally ahead of the polls.

The activists complained that Zanu PF supporters were pulling down their party's campaign posters in the area. Zanu PF Mashonaland East Chairman Ray Kaukonde denied the allegations.