ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana yesterday said he never received any report from his officers indicating there were some ballots missing after the July 14 and 15 special voting.
REPORT BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
Silaigwana told Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe while testifying in a case in which MDC–T deputy national chairman Morgen Komichi is on trial for allegedly being found in possession of a ballot paper in violation of the country’s electoral laws.
The trial opened yesterday with Silaigwana as the first witness.
The Zec official said he was unsure if any report of missing ballots was ever made.
Komichi is facing charges of fraud and contravening Section 85 of the Electoral Act. He has pleaded not guilty.
Speaking under cross-examination by Komichi’s lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, Silaigwana said: “I wouldn’t know whether or not they were genuine special vote ballot papers.”
He said the ballots might not have reached the polling station as they did not have the polling officer’s secret mark.
Silaigwana said the person who was in charge of the special vote was the one in a position to know the booklets from which those particular ballots had been extracted.
The deputy chief elections officer, who told the court he was employed by the Zimbabwe National Army prior to joining Zec, said election management was a relatively new field to him and he still had a lot to learn.
He told the court that after voting, ballot papers would be given back to Zec officials who retained them as election residue and seal them. Prior to the cross–examination, Silaigwana, who was being led by law officer Michael Mugabe, explained to the court the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the alleged offence.
Allegations against Komichi are that he misrepresented to Zec that he had picked a sealed tamper-proof envelope with a special vote ballot paper from a dustbin at the Harare International Conference Centre which housed Zec’s command centre.
He allegedly approached Zec and claimed that an unnamed person informed him that they had picked an envelope from a dustbin.
Komichi further alleged that he had opened it out of curiosity and discovered that there were ballot papers.
Earlier in yesterday’s proceedings, Muchadehama had made an application for the two charges to be merged into one as the facts on both charges were similar, but the application was dismissed
The trial continues today.