Special voting take-off chaotic: ZESN

The special voting for uniformed forces and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials took off on a chaotic and disorderly note yesterday, says the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

The election was characterised by the late opening of polling stations, a critical shortage of sensitive voting materials such as indelible ink, ZEC stamps, ballot papers and boxes across the country.

There was a general lack of consistency at polling stations on the availability of electronic and hard copies of the voters roll. The voting process was slow in areas where it had commenced, ZESN said.

Besides the late kick-off of the voting, participation of notable partisan members of the police as polling agents raised eyebrows.

“At Chimanimani Court in Manicaland, it was reported that an MDC-T polling agent identified a Zanu (PF) poling agent as a policeman and this resulted in a brawl which caused a temporally stoppage of the voting,” said ZESN in a statement.

The statement said ZESN observers reported the absence of party agents for all political parties in most polling stations such as Mberengwa Primary School in the Midlands Province.

This could be interpreted as lack of preparedness on the part of political parties to observe the process, said ZESN.

At Inkomo Barracks tent in the Mashonaland West province, ZESN noted that ballot papers had been changed because of some alterations being made, due to the withdrawal of some election candidates.

At Odzi Primary School in Manicaland Province, a presiding officer had to intervene to stop playing of some revolutionary music at a nearby residence, which was seen as campaigning within 200 metres of the polling station.

ZESN questioned ZEC’s preparedness to conduct the national elections which are 16 days away, given its handling of the special voting process.

ZEC was urged to immediately intervene and correct the anomalies besetting the ongoing special voting and assure the nation that it has the capacity to run and manage the impending harmonised elections.

ZESN said. “ZEC should upload the electronic copies of the finalvoters’ roll with updates of voters registered during the mobile registration exercise from June 10 to July 9 on its website, to enable citizens to continue to inspect and check their names.”

As the election drama unfolds, the High Court is yet to give a ruling on an urgent chamber application submitted by the MDC-T, concerning anomalies between those who applied to vote under the special voting and the actual number of uniformed forces employed by the government.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the impasse over the participation of police constabulary details has stalled voting at some centres in the Midlands province.

MDC agents yesterday blocked voting by the neighbourhood watch members, who are not regular officers at two centres at Tongogara and Chachacha.

“We have stood our ground. It is up to the police to give an acceptable roll of those that should vote. Also, we have not been given the ballots by ZEC, and we wonder why it is taking so long,” said an agent at noon on Tuesday, the second and final special vote day.

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