Zec disenfranchises nurses, doctors in 2018 vote

HARARE - Thousands of doctors and nurses who will be on duty on 2018 election day will be unable to cast their vote, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) confirmed yesterday.

Zec chairperson Rita Makarau (pictured) made the declaration during a meeting with medical practitioners who sought to discuss ways in which they can exercise their voting rights while on duty in the 2018 general elections.

Amendments in Section 22A of the Electoral Act introduced the polling station-based voters’ roll in which one can only vote at one specific polling station where his or her name appears on the voters’ roll, unless where exceptions apply.

“If you are not at home, you can’t vote . . . the devil is in the law, change the law . . . We are speaking the same language and we have been making the same cry because even ourselves, we will be away from home,” Makarau said.

“I maybe observing elections in Matabeleland South but I am registered to vote here (in Harare), which means if I am away from home, I will not be able to vote not because I don’t want to vote or Zec does not want to facilitate, but the lawmakers did not see that gap.

“So we have been making that cry for the law to be changed. It doesn’t only affect doctors but even police officers,” Makarau said.

Executive director of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) Calvin Fambirai had told Makarau the health professionals felt voting privileges had been extended to the army and the police for purpose of enhancing their participation in electoral processes but not to the health sector.

“The argument is essentially that the health sector, particularly doctors and nurses, have been placed on ‘essential services’ category as with the security forces, that is the army and the police,” Fambirai said. 

“We believe not much has been done to extend the same privileges to medical practitioners as has been extended to the army and police for purpose of enhancing their participation in electoral purposes. Special facilities such as establishment of registration centres and polling stations and postal voting are granted to the security forces.

“Hospitals and other notable public institutions do not scale down services because there is an election. In fact, the history of our elections which have been largely characterised by violence even call for health professionals who are on duty, on call and alert for the purposes of not only attending to victims of politically-motivated violence but to the general provision of care to ailing Zimbabweans.

“Therefore, increasing access to polling stations will assist in preventing interruption of service provision by health professionals in exercising their right to vote as guaranteed in Section 67 of the Constitution.”

The meeting involved Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) together with the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) and the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), which represents 14 200 State nurses.

There are 1 500 State doctors.

But Makarau said the health professionals will have to forfeit their right to vote just like 200 000 Zec polling officials who would be stationed away from their wards on polling day.

“We deploy polling officers at each polling station and each station requires not less than seven officers. On polling day, we deploy not less than 70 000 polling officers and not all can be deployed at home.

“So we are losing 70 000 votes . . . It’s not you alone but hundreds of thousands of votes will be lost, so you can assist by petitioning Parliament.

“It’s not an administration arrangement but it’s a legal gap which nobody seems keen to fill,” Makarau said.

The medical practitioners were also lobbying for detained patients on election day, displaced from their ward due to illness, to be given the right to vote through postal vote.

Makarau also shot down that demand.

“Unfortunately, again, you can’t make use of postal vote, it’s only for diplomats . . . we don’t have a problem of administering it to everybody, but if only the law can be changed,” Makarau said.

“The devil or the problem is in the law and not in the administration.”

Comments (8)

As a nation we are failing to find a solution for a seemingly straightforward problem, and yet we have the audacity to refer to ourselves as the most "learned people" in Africa.

Nyoni - 13 June 2017

Cry the beloved country.

Changamire Dombo - 13 June 2017

Makarau dont forget you have children as well as a life to live, Zanu will not live beyond 2018. I promise you, you will answer for all the misery you subjected zimbabweans to when you anounced the rigged results for your masters. While we know you are only doing as you are told by your superior the day will come when we will demand answers and ignorance will not save you.

Musoro - 13 June 2017

My advise to all nurses and doctors, if you are scheduled to be at work on the day of voting, do not go or else you are handing over power in a silver plate. this is a calculated strategy

Mayibongwe - 13 June 2017

Sometimes you wonder how some people sleep at night? Anyway, without adding to the same pitiful cries, can someone please pull out the law she is referring to and let's challenge her assertion first and then if proven true, we can challenge the law itself, starting at the door step of all those fundis - the Magaisa's, the Ncube's, the Mangwana's, the Biti's and others who passed the constitution on for our assent. Did they take their eye off the ball, miss a trick?

Kwidz - 14 June 2017

Why is this the case when police have voted separately in previous elections? Why are police given this opportunity and doctors and nurses aren't?

Tawaz - 14 June 2017

Why is this the case when police have voted separately in previous elections? Why are police given this opportunity and doctors and nurses aren't?

Tawaz - 14 June 2017

same privilledges given to the army should be given to healthy professionals.take it to court

gilo - 15 June 2017

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