The chaos that engulfed Sunday and Monday’s special vote as thousands of registered voters tried and failed to cast their ballots is ample evidence that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is not fit to run a “fair, free and credible” election acceptable by United Nations standards.
There is ample proof that the vote was neither free, fair nor credible. Thousands of registered voters did not vote because, as ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe said, ballot papers were not printed. “We under-estimated that particular task,” said Kazembe, who seems to turn up with all the right answers while chairperson Rita Makarau, like Simpson Mtambanengwe before her, plays the disappearing act at the most crucial hour.
This is about democracy, and excuses can not be tolerated when the fundamental rights of citizens are disregarded by the state and its agencies. The bottom line is that thousands of loyal, disciplined civil servants and security forces did not vote. They will not be able to do so until 2018. This is wrong. It is a painful blow, considering that the constitution bars state employees from active politics. To then deny them the right to vote is more than cruel. And for the authorities to admit the mistakes and do nothing to correct them is wholly wrong, rendering the whole election process unfair.
Throughout this round of elections, undemocratic tendencies, especially by Zanu PF, have been reported, which ZEC has turned a blind eye on. It was reported that security force commanders were addressing rallies on behalf of Zanu PF in camps and facilities that were off limits to other parties for security reasons. Police, army and prison officers complained that they were being threatened with dismissal and death if they did not vote for Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Additionally, people who were not genuine police officers, and Zanu PF militia, were allowed to apply for special voting rights under the banner of the police. On voting days, senior police officers were seen by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and MDC-T monitors delivering lists of voters “approved” by Zanu PF structures. All these were serious and genuine breaches which should have been recorded and investigated, but ZEC did nothing. Instead, they allowed one of the culprits, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) hierarchy to get away with it by publishing denials before the violations were officially probed.
A lot of other violations were witnessed during this voting round, which observers fear will be repeated on July 31. Add to that picture of chaos, a shambolic voters roll.
Instead of clamouring for more money from the Treasury, ZEC must demonstrate its ability to conduct an election by doing simple things right. Otherwise, as far as we, the people are concerned, what the MDC-T advocated for in 2009 – dissolving the entire secretariat in order to weed out undercover intelligence and military personnel planted in ZEC by Zanu PF – would be the perfect solution.


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