HARARE - An independent poll monitoring group has said each voter will have a maximum of 22 seconds to cast four ballots on March 29, and this renders the whole voting process a sham.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, ZESN, which fielded 120 observers across the country before they were barred by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commssion, said this week in areas such as Chitungwiza, voters will only have nine seconds to vote because of the high number of people registered in the area. ZESN chairperson Noel Kututwa said a close analysis of the list of polling stations announced by the ZEC has revealed that the list is fraught with errors, with  shocking discrepancies in the number of registered voters. As a result, said Kututwa, the poll body’s capacity to run a credible election is in question.”The ZEC’s publication of the list of polling stations is an important and positive step,” Kututwa told The Zimbabwean. “However, the list contains significant errors and relatively few polling stations in Bulawayo and Harare provinces. ZESN encourages the ZEC to rectify these issues so that everyone who wishes to vote has a reasonable opportunity to do so on. It would be unfortunate if the problem of too few polling stations in these provinces in 2002 is repeated.”ZESN spokesperson Shupikai Mashereni was not immediately available for comment at the time of going to print. Kututwa noted that there was a significant discrepancy in the number of registered voters per polling station for different provinces. “There should be some variation, but the number of registered voters per polling station in Bulawayo and Harare is more than twice that of the other provinces,” Kututwa said. “The situation is similar in Gweru and Mutare municipalities where the average number of register voters per polling station is 1,234 and 1,277 respectively. As a result, the average voter in Harare province will need to be processed in 22 seconds and some cases in as little as nine seconds in Chitungwiza Ward 2 for instance where there are 9,281 registered voters and two polling stations.”The average number of voters should be consistent by both constituency and ward, he said. “ZESN encourages the ZEC to increase the number of polling stations in Bulawayo and Harare provinces as well as other urban centres so that all Zimbabweans have a reasonable opportunity to vote on 29 March,” he said.The Zimbabwean heard that polling station information for Matabeleland North appears to be scrambled – with polling stations located in the wrong constituency. For example, said Kututwa, Victoria Pre-School polling station is listed in Ward 1 of Binga Rural District Council (RDC). Actually the polling station is in Victoria Falls Municipality, he said. “This is just one of many such errors for the province,” Kututwa said. “ZESN encourages the ZEC to urgently print a corrected list of polling stations to ensure that all registered voters know their polling stations on election day.”

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