ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau has described the 2013 special voting experience as a nightmare, which her team will not be willing to live through again.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Speaking at a Zec meeting with civic society organisations (CSOs), Justice Makarau said the process provided a logistical nightmare for the under-resourced commission.
“For me, special voting was nightmarish from a logistical point of view. We had to track down nearly 55 000 police officers from their wards to their stations. Talking as an under-resourced commission, the experience was nightmarish. The numbers were such that we did not cope,” she said.
Makarau was responding to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), which is pushing to have special voting reintroduced and extended even to people in hospitals.
Zesn said it felt that special voting was a progressive electoral reform, which should not be abolished, but strengthened to plug loopholes in the system.
The chaotic special voting, which was extended to nearly 55 000 police officers days before the election day, was riddled with errors amid speculation that government used the system to rig the polls for Zanu PF.
CSOs also accused the Zimbabwe Republic Police of being the biggest impediment to free and fair elections, saying their partisan approach heavily tipped the electoral playing field in Zanu PF’s favour.
Zesn said from electoral reports, which they shared with Zec, police had failed to adhere to the law during the Norton by-election, in which they should have established a special police liaison office and a special investigation committee for the expeditious investigation of cases of politically-motivated violence.
Organising for Zimbabwe Trust accused the police of allowing Zanu PF to campaign freely in Norton, while other political parties had their rallies barred, creating an uneven playing field.
Zec also announced that election observers would from now on not sign official secrecy forms when observing elections.
Makarau said the law was clear that they did not need to swear to secrecy while observing elections.