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‘Zimbabweans are afraid of elections’

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ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chairperson Joyce Letitia Kazembe yesterday said Zimbabweans were afraid of elections , particularly people in rural areas.

REPORT BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Kazembe urged people in rural areas not to be cowed into voting for political parties they did not like, as their votes were secret.

“There is fear out there. People are fearful of elections. That fear is real. There is also fear of the unknown. It will take time to remove this fear,” she told a meeting of church leaders in Bulawayo.

“Voter education is there to remove this fear. Even though there are people intimidating others, it is the duty of all of us to tell the people that they should not be fearful because their vote is a secret.”

Zimbabwean elections since 1980 have often been fraught with violence and intimidation.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of the 2008 Presidential run-off, citing political violence, but Kazembe warned presidential candidates against pulling out of elections even in cases where there was violence.

She said aspiring presidential elects will be considered as contesting in absentia if they shy away from the polls.

“If you are contesting in a presidential run-off election, you can never pull out citing this or that reason or citing political violence,” she said.

“That run-off election will never be called off if an aspiring candidate pulls out because of whatever reason as they will be considered as contesting in absentia.”

The Zec deputy chairperson added that the electoral body was ready to conduct elections anytime from now provided there is money.

“We are ready to undertake the elections at any time,” she said. “We are always ready. We will always be ready as long as we get the funding to acquire all that we want.”

Kazembe said the State was interfering with their operations by not giving the body sufficient funding.

“That is interference because, for example, we are failing to hold voter education because of lack of money,” she said.

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