THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday turned down a request by local doctors and nurses to be allowed to vote from their respective workstations.
BY GARIKAI TUNHIRA
Health professionals — represented by the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association and Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) — had requested that Zec allow for registration of nurses and doctors at their workplaces to create a smooth flow for the ward-based voting system.
While promising to look into the issues, Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said the law did not allow for some of the health professionals’ demands.
“The law does not provide for postal voting beyond diplomats, and at the same time, the legal framework does not allow for out-of-ward individuals to vote even though they will be on national duty,” Makarau said.
She added that the problem did not affect health professional alone, but also the more than 70 000 polling officers who will be manning polling centres.
ZADHR executive director Calvin Fambirai said despite the said anomalies, the health workers could vote even if they were away from home.
“This, therefore, calls for enhanced voter education among health professionals to understand the dynamics around voter registration and the importance of registering in the wards that they work in,” he said.
“This will avoid disenfranchisement and attendant conflicts that might arise as a result of the ward-based voting system and professional duties.”
Fambirai said doctors could make use of affidavits for proof of residence so they register and enhance their chances of voting.
“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.
“We, therefore, demand that privileges granted to the security sector also be extended to health professionals at central and provincial hospitals for the 2018 elections, as these facilities host a large portion of the health workforce at a given time,” Fambirai told NewsDay yesterday.
“Zec should grant this facility to allow for out-of-station health professionals to enjoy their right to vote. By enhancing access to health facilities for health professionals, Zec will be moving towards making voting a universal right as stated in Section 67 of the Constitution.”