All in place for Feb 3 by-elections

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said everything is now in place for the February 3 by-elections after the High Court upheld a challenge by the CCC secretary-general, Mr Sengezo Tshabangu to bar 23 recalled National Assembly and local authorities’ candidates from participating in the polls.

ZEC began printing of ballots on Saturday, while training of officials to run the elections is currently underway.

At least 230 000 ballot papers for the National Assembly elections will be printed and 144 000 will be printed for the local authorities’ polls.

ZEC will also establish 552 polling stations.

The electoral body also revealed that the decrease in the number of candidates on the ballot papers will result in a reduced cost to the initially budgeted figure of US$6 million.

ZEC vice chairperson Ambassador Rodney Kiwa yesterday told The Herald that following the settling of legal matters that were before the courts, everything was now set for the seamless conduction of the by-elections.

“We are good to go now. Everything that we have on our by-elections roadmap is on course now.

“We were anxious about the court challenges and that has been decided so we are now good to go and we had not started the ballot printing because of the court cases but printing started yesterday.

“We had budgeted for plus or minus US$6 million, but now that there will be less people on the ballot papers, I think the budget will also go down.

“Yes, our constituency election officers, ward election officers, election agents and everyone else underwent a training programme for the election to make sure that everyone is clear of what is expected of them on election day.

“We have 552 polling stations, election material and equipment is in place and we are printing 230 400 ballot papers for National Assembly then 144 000 for local authorities and this will be done by the printing and minting company of Zimbabwe,” he said.

ZEC, Ambassador Kiwa said, was appealing to registered voters, where elections will be held, to exercise their constitutional right to vote and shun apathy.

He said it was important for people to choose their preferred leaders as they were responsible for the fulfilment of their aspirations.

“Everything is now in place, like I said earlier the only thing that was keeping us anxious was the court decision, but now that has been decided and finalised so we are good to go.

“We just want to appeal to people to be peaceful and turnout for the elections, please exercise your right it’s important and it’s an opportunity to decide your leadership.

“So, we expect people to exercise their constitutional right, we encourage and it’s really part of our voter education.”

Those barred from contesting in the polls under the CCC banner include, former deputy spokesperson, Gift Ostallos Siziba who was legislator for Pelandaba-Tshabalala, former leader of the opposition in Parliament Amos Chibaya who was Mkoba North Member of Parliament and Stephen Chagwiza who was representing Goromonzi South.

Former Harare Mayor Ian Makone who was Councillor for Ward 18 is also among the 20 councillors to be expunged from the ballot papers.

The 23 had successfully filed their nomination papers last month as CCC candidates despite their recalls after they ceased to be members of the opposition party.

Mr Tshabangu then challenged their nomination at the High Court, resulting in the ruling by Justice Pisirayi Kwenda removing the 23 from the ballot papers.

They had defiantly filed their nomination papers under the CCC which had recalled them in the first place, defying an earlier order by the High Court that prohibited recalled MPs from running for office in by-elections under the opposition party’s banner.

“Three candidates were disqualified in the National Assembly in Pelanda, Goromonzi South and Mkoba North.

“Then in local authorities 20 candidates were disqualified this follows the court decision,” said Ambassador Kiwa.

He said accreditation of observers was also now open.

Herald

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