PROCESSING of special and postal vote application papers commenced on Monday ahead of elections scheduled for July 31 amid indications that close to
120 000 applications had been lodged with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
REPORT BY SENIOR REPORTER
Speaking on the sidelines of a training workshop for political party electoral agents in Harare yesterday, Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said there was nothing unusual about the special votes as they were meant to facilitate the early voting of security forces.
“A special vote will take place 16 days before the actual poll. There is really nothing special about the vote. It is just an early vote, but the processes will just be the same,” Makarau said.
The voting would not be taking place in military barracks or in police camps as before, but will happen in ordinary polling stations in the wards where everyone else would be voting at a later stage, Zec officials said.
Addressing political parties present at the workshop, Zec commissioner Geoff Feltoe said the special vote would take place over a period of two days at the various wards in all constituencies around the country.
“Special voting allows for members of the disciplined forces and electoral officers, who will be outside their wards on duty at the time of the ordinary poll, to vote,” Feltoe said.
“Application and authorisation of special vote is open to inspection and a list of those that will be authorised to vote will be sent to polling stations. Special votes are now going to be counted at ward level and the results will be combined with the tally of the special postal votes.”
Meanwhile, Zec has warned political party leaders against announcing election results before they were officially announced by the electoral body as that constituted a criminal offence.
“Unofficial or false declaration of results is prohibited. Under section 66A (of the electoral act) it is now a criminal offence for anyone including a member of a political party to announce the result of any election as the official result or purport to declare a candidate duly elected,” Feltoe said.
“The overall result of the presidential election is officially announced by the chief elections officer. We want the right people to announce the results, people who are authorised to do this.”
In 2008, MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti was charged for prematurely announcing party leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s victory. However, the charges were later withdrawn as negotiations towards the formation of the inclusive government gathered momentum.