Zec bans cellphones during polls

HARARE - No cell phones will be allowed into voting booths for this Saturday’s referendum and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has warned journalists and observers to exercise restraint.

Speaking to journalists and observers yesterday, Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe said the organisation has received reports that some people are under pressure to take pictures of their ballots using cell phones to show others as proof.

Zec is charged with conducting electoral processes in the country.

As a consequence and also to preserve order within polling stations, Zec says it is imperative for people who would have entered the polling booths to switch off their mobile phones.

“Persons and organisations that will come to observe the process should not come up with preconceived judgments. People are not allowed to use cameras and cell phones in the polling stations while journalists, with the permission of the returning officer, may take pictures,” said Kazembe.

He said the organisation, which is staffed with former State intelligence operatives, is snooping on journalists.

“To members of the press we are observing you and we are also monitoring your activities,” she said.

Since 2009 Zimbabwe has been crafting a new constitution driven by coalition government partners and the draft will be subject to a referendum on Saturday.

The draft is widely expected to receive huge support as all major parties are agreed on a “yes vote”.

Although little can be learnt from the referendum since there will be no real political contest, analysts regard Zimbabwe’s second referendum since 1980 as a test for Zec’s preparedness to hold free and fair elections to be held most likely in June or July.

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