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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Promising to Address Alleged Election Rigging Underway Nationwide

An election officer was allegedly found stuffing a ballot box in Harare and a polling station has been set up in the bush in Kwekwe. (Hopewell Chin'ono/Twitter)
An election officer was allegedly found stuffing a ballot box in Harare and a polling station has been set up in the bush in Kwekwe. (Hopewell Chin'ono/Twitter)

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is expected today to issue a statement on reports of alleged rigging in Harare and other parts of the country ahead of the Saturday council and parliamentary by-elections.

Opposition parties have released a video, which has since gone viral on social media, showing an allegedly stuffed ballot box at Mhizha Primary School in Highfield, Harare.

Some election agents claim that they caught an election official “voting” single-handedly and stuffing the polling box.

In a tweet, ZEC said, “The Commission will be issuing a statement shortly pertaining the alleged video circulating on social media of one of polling stations.”

ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba and elections chief Etoile Silaigwana were unreachable as they were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.

The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change has reacted angrily to the alleged rigging underway and also called for investigations over claims that a polling station has been pitched in a bush in Kwekwe, Midlands, at a place said to be a Zanu PF stronghold.

The party has also questioned the setting up of some Command Center for Mutare province.

Party spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, said, “Why has the Command/Collation Centre for 15 Mutasa Central been established in Ward 17? Please explain why the command centre for Manicaland is in Masvingo?”

Meanwhile, ZEC has announced that polling stations have been set up and the voters’ rolls displayed outside polling stations.

In a tweet, ZEC said, “Citizens are encouraged to visit polling stations prior to polling day to check their details.”

At the same time, the Zimbabwe Election Resorce Center (ERC) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) say they will be monitoring the by-elections nationwide.

In a joint statement, ERC and ZESN said they will deploy approximately 400 trained and accredited observers across 28 constituencies to observe the 26 March by-elections.

“ERC and ZESN observers were carefully recruited from local communities following strict criteria and adhering to gender balance. These observers underwent a thorough training program on the conduct of the elections, direction on what to observe, and when to report on election day. Additionally, observers signed a code of conduct acknowledging that they were non-partisan. ZESN and ERC will produce statements, based on the verified reports of observers on the opening and set up of polling places as well as voting, closing and counting procedures.”

During the pre-election period ERC and ZESN reported issues of intimidation, violence, and partisan activities of state and traditional leaders.

“Ahead of the 26 March by-elections, ERC and ZESN call on all key stakeholders, including political parties, security actors, and voters to contribute to respect and uphold the political rights of all individuals which are enshrined in Section 67 of the Constitution including the right to make political choices freely and the right to vote in all elections and to do so in secret on election day. ERC and ZESN recognise the unique contribution that all electoral stakeholders need to make in order for the 26 March by-elections to be successful and therefore urges the security forces to discharge their duties professionally and political parties to refrain from using language that may incite violence.”

They urged ZEC to administer the electoral day process in a manner that further promotes confidence and trust in the electoral process.