PLWD appeal against assisted voting

PEOPLE living with disabilities have demanded that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) provides stationery allowing them to vote without assistance, to avoid compromising their right to a secret ballot.

BY KUDZAI MUCHENJEKWA

Addressing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) executive director, Tsarai Mungani said Zec should provide braille and large print ballot papers to ensure that visually-impaired people can vote without police and polling officers’ assistance.

“We would want a situation in which people with disability can exercise their vote using ballot paper in braille, large prints or voting machines so as not to compromise their right to a secret ballot, because the next thing is you would want to assign someone into my bedroom and see if I am doing it right with my wife,” Mungani said.

Assisted voting raises concerns of whether those who assist them follow their instructions, while also exposing them to victimisation.

Mungani said owing to such threats to their vote nearly 2 million persons with disabilities chose to stay away from the ballot.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba noted the NASCOH concerns, but was quick to say their hands were tied owing to lack of funding.

“Zec had submitted a budget of $148 million to fund the elections and of that budget the Treasury has committed itself to giving the Zec $98 million which means that there is a budget deficit, and Zec can only do that which is possible to do within the limited funds that it has,” she said.

“As Zec, we are committed to everything possible to ensure that our registered voters exercise their right to vote in a manner which is stipulated in the Constitution, but all our administrative functions are funded by the government.”

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