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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Still Using 2 Voters' Rolls in By-Elecitons

  • Gibbs Dube

FILE - Zimbabwean women react as they wait to casts their votes at a polling station in Domboshava, about 45 km (28 miles) north of Harare, July 31, 2013.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has expressed dismay over the continued use of two voters’ roll in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections saying the electoral body should stop this practice.

In its detailed report following the Mwenezi parliamentary election won by a Zanu PF candidate at the weekend, ZESN said, “ZESN observers reported that the Commission continued to use two voters’ rolls in the by-election a trend that has been previously observed in previous by-elections.

“The main voters’ roll made up of voters captured during the registration process was used together with a supplementary roll based on the ward based voters’ roll used in the 2013 harmonised election. ZESN reiterates its position that use of one voters’ roll in future elections will greatly enhance the transparency and integrity of the electoral process.”

Zanu PF’s Joosbi Omah got 18,700 votes while Welcome Masuku of the National Constitutional Assembly received 482 and Turner Mhango of the Zimbabwe Congress Party got 386.

Top opposition political parties like the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai and several others did not participate in the polls saying ZEC should first level the electoral field before they field candidates in these polls.

At the same time, ZESN noted significant numbers of assisted voters in the Mwenezi East by-election, mostly attributed to illiteracy, old age and disability.

“As in previous by-elections the high numbers of assisted voters are not consistent with Zimbabwe’s high literacy rates. For instance, significant numbers of assisted voters were recorded at Vili-Vili Primary School by 1600hrs was 61, whilst 53 and 43 were assisted at Mavambo Primary and Masangula Primary School respectively. Overally, the highest figures of assisted voters were recorded in Ward 13 which is predominantly made up of farms and estates.”

ZESN also said though the election day was generally peaceful, the campaign period was marred by allegations of intimidation, abuse of traditional leaders in campaigns, defacing of campaign materials, vote buying and partisan food distribution.

“In addition, there were reports of the police refusing to grant clearances for opposition rallies in some of the wards. In contravention of Section 45(2) of the Traditional Leaders Act, the ruling party candidate used traditional leaders to canvass for support, intimidate and commandeer voters on Election Day.”

ZESN commended the assigning of three magistrates to deal with cases of violence and intimidation for the Mwenezi East by-election in line with Section 133J (3) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13). “ZESN however calls for consistency and continuity in the implementation of this provision and for the police and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to take action on the reported cases of intimidation and violence.”

It recommended that ZEC must consider conducting a fresh delimitation of voters to ensure that the number of voters per constituency are in line with the +/- 20% threshold provided for in the Constitution.

It further noted that ZEC and civic society organisations should invest in more comprehensive voter education programmes to improve voters’ understanding of key electoral requirements in order to reduce numbers of turned away and assisted voters.

“There is need for robust voter education, public awareness campaigns and publicity on the new polling station-based voters' roll to ensure that voters are aware of their specific polling stations to avoid cases of voters presenting themselves at the wrong polling stations.

“Measures must be put in place to ensure that women’s participation in electoral processes is not only at the voting level but as candidates for political offices. ZESN urges political parties to put more effort and investment into the observation of key electoral processes to enable them to speak authoritatively on the management of the elections.

“The electoral commission, political parties and civic society organisations must come up with strategies to lure youths to participate in electoral processes. ZEC should consider use of braille ballot papers and explore other mechanisms being used in the (SADC) region to allow free choice by special needs groups.”

It also recommended that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Republic Police and ZEC must investigate cases of intimidation and violence and publicize the findings of such investigations.

By-Election Results

Candidate

Political Party

Sex

Votes Received

Joosbi Omar

ZANU PF

M

18,700

Turner Nhango

Free Zimbabwe Congress

M

482

Welcome Masuku

NCA

M

386

Rejected votes

652

Total Valid Votes

20,200

Source: ZEC

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XS
SM
MD
LG