‘Stop dramatising electoral process’

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has said it is executing its functions independently and is confident of delivering credible elections as it does not fear or favour any political party.

Instead of political players sensationalising and dramatising electoral processes to create alarm and despondency ahead of elections set for August, they should focus on depolarising the election environment, the commission urged.

ZEC said it opened the voters roll for inspection to enable the public to audit its process and will attend to any anomaly that may arise.

The voters roll inspection has seen opposition politicians claiming their names are not on the voters roll, but after further engagement with ZEC, they have found that their names were on the voters roll after all.

Citizen Coalition of Change (CCC) senior member Professor Welshman Ncube is among the politicians who were quick to post on social media platform Twitter that their names were not on the voters roll. 

However, upon approaching ZEC’s provincial offices he was assisted and told of the specific polling station where his name is. 

“At Windsor Park the lady who attended to me first used the electronic platform and the system could not locate my name and ID particulars. She then went into the ZEC computer mainframe and advised that my name appeared on the voters roll for Burnside Garage Tent Polling Station,” tweeted Prof Ncube.

“I also asked how my name would appear on their mainframe computer and yet their electronic platform is unable to find my name and ID particulars which are in the system and they had no explanation. All they could say is that there are similar problems across Bulawayo and are being attended to.”

Another CCC leader, Mr David Coltart said his polling station had changed, but after verifying he was informed that it had not changed.

He said using the *265# facility on a mobile phone, he learnt that he was supposed to vote at Hillside Bowling Club, but upon visiting the station he was not on the voters roll. 

“Eventually at lunchtime today I went back to the @ZECzim offices at Windsor Park. It was even more inundated with people than yesterday but after asking around I did find a young man who was prepared to go into the #Zec database and found that I am registered at Burnside Garage,” said Mr Coltart.

CCC leader Mr Nelson Chamisa went to Kuwadzana suburb in Harare to check his details, and found nothing untoward.

ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana said the commission made public the provisional voters roll by taking it to communities for people to check their names as it has nothing to hide.

ZEC CEO Utoile Silaigwana

Mr Silaigwana said at law, people are expected to visit ZEC offices for inspection purposes but the commission had gone an extra mile by establishing more than 11 000 centres countrywide.

He said the delimitation exercise that the commission conducted recently could have changed the electorate’s polling station among other anomalies being attended to.

“Probably some people could have gone to the places where they usually vote but because of the delimitation exercise they might have been moved. There is no need for anyone to press a panic button because these anomalies that I’m talking about can be corrected,” said Mr Silaigwana.

He said it is in ZEC’s interest to deliver a credible election as the country’s Constitution guarantees ZEC’s independence and it does not act in a partisan manner.

“The independence of ZEC is guaranteed. Firstly, it is guaranteed by the Constitution. ZEC reports to nobody except to Parliament. It is for that reason that you may want to know that ZEC used to report through a ministry, but now reports straight to Parliament. The Ministry of Justice (Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) is just an administrative conduit but we now report straight to Parliament,” he said.

“That alone guarantees the independence of ZEC. Secondly, ZEC is independent in its functions. It is functioning independently and there is no where you find out that ZEC produces, for instance voter education material that favours party A or party B. And it is for that reason that when ZEC conducts voter education and voter information, it makes sure that those who are not ZEC, who are allowed by the law, civil society organisations, faith based organisations and other organisations, cannot go to the field without ZEC having approved their materials to make sure that their material is not biased and they are actually neutral.”

Mr Silaigwana said with regards to its operations there is no need for the public to make unfounded claims on how it prepares for polls.

“There is no need to over-dramatize some of these things and also sensationalise elections in our country. We all have the responsibility to build this country, we all need this stability and there is no need to be saying things that don’t exist. ZEC is truly independent,” said Mr Silaigwana.

He said political parties should work towards depolarising the election environment.

ZEC CEO Utoile Silaigwana

Mr Silaigwana said if the political landscape is not conducive some special interests’ groups may be forced not to participate in the polls.

“There is no need to cause alarm in our electoral processes. It is not necessary for alarmists to cause despondency in an election. Elections must be held in a peaceful environment. Elections belong to the ordinary people and the ordinary people must be protected by an environment,” said Mr Silaigwana

“We appeal to the political actors to create a conducive and peaceful environment so that our elections must be held where everyone wants to participate. If that does not happen people with disabilities, pregnant women and the old may not participate in the elections because they might think that the elections may become violent.” 

He said the commission is ready to hold this year’s harmonised elections and is confident that Government will finance the holding of the polls.

Chronicle

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