Chaos, logistical bottlenecks mar special vote

WAITING IN VAIN: Police officers wait to cast their ballot at Town House in Harare on Sunday. Picture: Annie Mpalume.

HARARE – Logistical bottlenecks and chaos marred a special vote by police officers and soldiers who will be on duty during Zimbabwe’s July 31 election, with electoral authorities failing to deliver special ballot papers in time to several centres countrywide.

Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe acknowledged the slow pace of voting owing it to delays in dispatching of ballot papers, and said the special vote had started in earnest in nine of the 10 provinces except in Masvingo because of delays in printing of ballot papers.

As of Sunday, Zec had dispatched 1 724 ballot papers to Matabeleland North , Mat South 153, Mash Central 450, Manicaland 127, Mash East 569, Mash West 435, Midlands 1 204, Harare 566 and Bulawayo 864 special votes respectively, according to Kazembe.

Voting at Town House in Harare began in the morning with 137 ballots delivered at the polling centre by midday, with hundreds of officers in uniform restless and waiting for their turn to cast their ballot.

Some sealed ballot papers were seen arriving at the polling stations in small batches of varying numbers, with many officers eagerly waiting for their envelopes to arrive.

“Multitudes of expectant civil servants and security officers are struggling to cast their votes owing to poor logistical coordination,” said Dennis Murira, the MDC national elections director told the Daily News.

“It has also failed to measure up to Zec’s promises that it is ready to conduct national elections. The exercise is fraught with irregularities such as lack of ballot papers, no Zec staff at polling stations, intimidation and vote buying.

“We are receiving reports from our agents on the ground and police officers who are waiting to cast their votes.”

In a special vote report seen by the Daily News, the MDC reported that the poll almost degenerated into chaos after 30 police officers at Mt Pleasant Hall smashed windows claiming Zec was too slow in the process after opening at 7am in the morning.

A woman police inspector was reported to be seen inspecting police officers queuing to cast their ballots at Kuwadzana Community Hall in Harare.

In Nkayi North — SMEs minister Sithembiso Nyoni slaughtered a beast for police officers voting in a blatant  case of vote-buying, according to MDC polling agents.

In Chiredzi East, in Ndali, the Member-in-Charge for the local police station was said to be in charge of the voting process instead of Zec officials, according to the MDC.

MDC polling agents were reportedly turned away in Zaka, Bikita and Chiredzi and no proper reason was given.

At Lwendulu School in Hwange Central Number 1, Zanu PF cadres were reportedly campaigning 100 metres within the centre in blatant violation of the Electoral Act.

In Nyanga South, Zanu PF allegedly pitched its command centre five metres away from the polling station.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC complained bitterly that in other centres across the country such as Mazowe North, Midlands South, Gweru Urban, Masvingo and Matabeleland North, voting started after 11 am, as ballot papers and Zec officials only started trickling in to the centres “at their own time.”

The election comes on the eve of a court hearing to stop the process because Tsvangirai’s MDC party says police numbers were inflated.

Zimbabwe will hold presidential and parliamentary elections and police chiefs have been campaigning for Tsvangvirai’s arch-rival, President Robert Mugabe, telling rank-and-file to vote for the veteran leader and his Zanu PF party.

The MDC says junior officers were threatened by superiors to rally behind Mugabe, a charge dismissed by the police.

Mugabe, 89, has been in power for 33 years and long criticised by political rivals and the West for perceived authoritarianism.

While so far largely peaceful, the election process has been criticised as disorganised, under-funded and plagued by irregularities.

The state electoral commission says 69 000 police officers, 2 000 prison officers, 164 soldiers and thousands of election officials were taking part in a two-day special vote starting on Sunday.

Tsvangirai’s MDC has queried the police figures and the High Court will today hear a request by the party to stop the voting.

Comments (5)

how come we only see photos of ZRP? Were there no ZNA and CIO voters

svosve - 15 July 2013

Of past l knew to be a police officer requires you 5 o`levels including maths and english,but what l noticed yesterday here in mash -west hurungwe its unbelievable hi-i ,neighbourwood watch who have never been to school, most of them are not even able to write their names and to speek english but suprisingly were wearing our zrp uniforms casting their votes after having strong meetings with zrp officer in-charges. How can someone forced to vote,thats not free and fare,ppl should choose not forced to vote for zanu pf,ok go ahead nhamo ya 2007 is just by your door steps.

moyomunhu - 15 July 2013

@Moyomunhu. who told you those people were voting for ZanuPF ? Uri gwara haikona ?

mambo - 15 July 2013

Mambo, there is no need to ask whether it is a he or a she goat. These things are so vivid that that we the officers are intimidated by our superiors who are given everything by the government. Look at the benefits of seniors, kapurazi, kamunda kemagoda, motikari hombo... these people don't even want us to drive our own vehicles... Mambo uri tsotsi that's why you don't want free and fear votes. There is no need for unformed forces to be told where to vote but that was different.

nhamoinewe - 15 July 2013

The police we encounter on daily routine are in tattered uniforms, suddenly they all now appear in new uniforms - chicanery!!!!!!!

mqhafi - 17 July 2013

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