The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s failure to run the two-day special vote for members of the uniformed forces shows ZEC is not ready and lacks capacity to conduct the July 31 harmonised elections.
Addressing a press conference in the capital Tuesday, MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti said the chaotic special voting exercise over the past two days has exposed ZEC's lack of preparedness for conducting free, fair and credible elections.
Biti said while he respects Justice Rita Makarau, the ZEC chairperson, the majority of Zimbabweans can no longer trust the electoral commission after it bungled the special voting exercise.
The special voting exercise, meant for election officers, soldiers, prison and police officers, which started Sunday, was marred by many challenges, including late opening of polling stations, shortages of ballot papers and boxes, among others.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti
Biti said during the exercise, his party agents were chased away and removed from polling stations in direct violation of the electoral law.
He said voting continued at some polling stations early Tuesday morning though it was supposed to stop at midnight. ZEC had earlier announced that anyone within a polling station would not be sent away before casting their ballots when it extended the voiting time.
Biti said the MDC-T has written to ZEC complaining about this breach of the law.
He said it is clear for his party that the ZEC commissioners are no longer in control of the ZEC secretariat as some of the workers are openly defying their orders.
Biti said after failing to properly run the special election of less that 100,000 voters, he doubts ZEC will be able to conduct the July 31 polls.
The MDC secretary general said as a result of Zanu-PF’s refusal to implement democratic reforms ahead of the elections, his party was feeling the pinch on the ground with unnecessary attacks in the state media and being banned from holding campaign rallies, especially at night.
Zanu PF on the other hand, said Biti, is allowed to address rallies anytime and is campaigning even in army barracks and police camps while his party is denied that opportunity.
He said in light of these issues the forthcoming elections won’t be free and fair.
He, however, said the MDC-T will participate in the poll because people want change.
Meanwhile, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba Monday night said the chaos that marred special voting was caused the MDC-T.
But Biti dismissed this saying his party had not obtained any court order to stop the process. He said the late deployment of ballot papers had nothing to do with his party.
He said the MDC-T will continue to approach the courts to ensure the law is complied with.