Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Ready for July 31 Vote

ZEC ready: Ballot papers, voters’ roll dispatched

Takunda Maodza Senior Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it is ready for tomorrow’s harmonised elections with ballot papers, the voters’ roll and other electoral paraphernalia having been dispatched to all the provinces.The announcement by ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau comes as the Zimbabwean election has generated a lot of interest with 887 foreign journalists being accredited to cover the polls against 444 local scribes.

Among various European news organisations covering the elections are New York Times, Daily Telegraph, Germany Press Agency and Radio France International.

A total of 11 781 observers have been accredited to monitor the elections.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Justice Makarau said: “Polling starts at 7am on Wednesday 31 of July 2013 for the harmonised elections. Campaigning by all political parties should stop at 6:59am tomorrow on the 30 of July 2013. This is in accordance with the law. You may then wonder, are we ready for the elections come 31 July 2013? Yes, we are ready for the elections on July 2013.

Why do I say we are ready for elections? It is because we have now dispatched all ballot papers to all provinces within Zimbabwe. The ballot papers are either in the provinces or on their way to the provinces.

“We have enough indelible ink in the provinces. We have enough copies of the voters’ roll in the provinces and we have enough men and women as polling officers in the provinces. So with all those basic ingredients in place, we are assured of having an election on 31 July 2013.”

She said the voters’ roll had also been distributed to polling stations.

“The voters’ roll closed on July 10 2013. Thereafter the office of the Registrar-General of Voters who falls under our supervision started compiling the voters’ roll. He has completed that task of compiling the voters’ roll. He has given us as ZEC enough copies and these have been dispatched to various polling stations.

As we speak, each and every polling station has a copy of the voters’ roll that will be used on 31 July 2013. I am informed that hard copies of the voters’ roll can now be obtained by candidates from the office of the RGV,” Justice Makarau said.

She said due to logistical challenges the RGV’s office “may not be in a position to issue the electronic copies”.

“But hard copies are available and all political party candidates are called upon to visit his (RGV) offices to pick up their copies.

“Again to try and assist the situation, we at ZEC have decided to make copies lie open for inspection at all our constituency offices so if anyone visits our constituency offices and district offices they should be able to inspect the voters’ roll just to ensure their name is on the roll and this exercise can start as early as tomorrow (this) morning.

“Instructions have already gone out to our provincial election officers, district election officers and constituency election officers to allow members of the public in their constituencies and in their districts to inspect the voters roll in readiness for July 31,” Justice Makarau said.

She said ZEC had prepared enough ballot papers to cover the 6.4 million registered voters plus an additional 35 percent for contingencies. The 35 percent additional ballots bring the total to about 8.7 million ballot papers.

“We want to assure all Zimbabweans that it is our duty to account for each and every ballot that will be used — the 8.7 million. We want you to hold us accountable to each and every ballot that would be used,” Justice Makarau said.

Accounting of ballots would be done at polling station level.

The Presidential and House of Assembly ballot papers were printed by Fidelity Printers while those for local authorities were printed by Printflow Private Limited.

Justice Makarau said the number of polling stations has been increased to 9 735 in anticipation of large turnover with Harare having an additional 45 polling stations. Composite polling stations have also been introduced. This is a single polling station with up to four serving centres.

Justice Makarau assured the nation the elections would be free and fair. She warned it was illegal for anyone to announce the election results as that was the mandate of ZEC.

“Let me make it quite clear that only ZEC can announce the official results. It is actually in the law that nobody else should announce the results because when they do so they will be going against the law.”

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has publicly vowed to announce the election result when he is fully aware that doing so would be committing an offence.

Justice Makarau told reporters she was not having any nightmares over the impending elections as her commission was fully prepared for the task.

Several European ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe attended the press conference, among then Mr Bruce Wharton (America), Ms Deborah Bronnet (Britain), and EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo-Dell’ Ariccia.

Mr Dell Ariccia said ZEC did “an amazing job despite time constraints”.

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