Ballots to be counted and displayed publicly in each ward

Ballots to be counted and displayed publicly in each ward

The Tsvangirai MDC on Thursday won a major victory over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The ZEC agreed to provide them with a complete copy of the voters' roll, and conceded to demands that all ballots be counted and displayed publicly in each ward and constituency.

The MDC had filed a High Court application that was to be heard by Justice Tendayi Uchena, but he never got the opportunity to make a ruling.  

Lawyer Alex Muchadehama said the ZEC claimed that they had never denied the MDC a copy of the voters roll and had never held back information on the counting of ballots in the election on Saturday. Muchadehama said this was not true. The MDC had letters and documents as evidence showing that they had written to ZEC officials requesting the full roll, but had never received a response.  

The MDC also wanted the ZEC to disclose the composition of the national command centre where presidential ballots were to be counted, and the number of polling agents allowed inside each polling station. It had been feared votes would be tampered with and rigging would take place without any observers present. 

The ZEC said there was no need for a ruling on these two issues because they had established a national collation centre that would replace the command centre, where the Presidential ballots only would be totaled. They will still be counted at each individual polling station. All contesting parties would be invited to send polling agents and each party will also be allowed 4 polling agents at every polling station. There will be over 8,000 polling stations so this would require 32,000 people from each contesting party. The Tsvangirai MDC have said that they have recruited 80,000 polling agents. 

Muchadehama said the fact that ballots would not be counted secretly as was done in the past is good news, but he added that there were still some very worrying issues that had not been resolved. 

The most worrying issue is the voters roll. As an example, the lawyer said there was one address in Hatcliffe that had 8,000 people registered to vote. There are also too many extra ballots printed for reasons still not explained by the ZEC. They printed 8,800,000 ballots for a total number of 5,9 million registered voters. 

There has also been no clarity regarding the number of postal ballots that were printed and exactly who was allowed to use them.  

Muchadehama said there is no way the elections can be deemed free and fair under such circumstances. He believes the concessions made by the ZEC on Thursday came too late and that it had been a calculated delay to frustrate the efforts of the opposition parties.


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