ERC, ZimRights commend peaceful environment during harmonised elections

By Byron Mutingwende

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) commended the generally peaceful environment during the harmonised elections held on 30 July 2018.

In its midday update yesterday, ZimRights, through its National Chairperson, Takesure Musiiwa, said throughout the country since voting started at 700hrs on Monday, had been progressing in relative peace and calm.

In terms of the polling stations, ZimRights noted that some had been moved from their original locations without people being aware of the changes.

The changes reportedly caused confusion in some areas such as polling stations in Epworth, Glenview and Harare West constituencies.

Because of the confusion, many people had been disenfranchised by the polling stations movement with some people still missing their names at the nearest polling stations.

There are also people who were turned away because their names were said to be on the exclusion list.

Cases of political party candidates and community leaders writing the names of people who came to vote were recorded in some areas.

“For instance such as case was recorded in Murehwa at Nyangambiri business centre and Mt. Claire Mission, where this was allegedly being done by the Zanu-PF candidate for Ward 16 near the polling stations. This was being done ostensibly to see their supporters, who will benefit from future programs.

“In the past, such practices have been associated with intimidation of voters, including denying those suspected to be against the candidates in  social welfare assistance after the elections, including politicisation of food aid,” Musiiwa said.

ZimRights said it received reports of ballot papers that did not have all or some of the details of the candidates for council in Norton , Ward 10, and Chegutu, Ward 6, for the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Zanu-PF respectively.

Equally, veld fires near polling stations were reported to have disrupted voting at Donnington Farm in Norton.

“ZimRights calls upon everyone in the country to maintain peace and ensure the election results will be respected and acceptable to all the contestants. ZimRights calls upon everyone to ensure that after the voting, the counting process and closing of polling stations will progress smoothly countrywide.”

While commending the largely peaceful environment, ERC in its update at 1630hours yesterday, said there had been isolated reports of politically motivated intimidation associated with recording names of voters in certain parts of the country particularly  in rural areas, including Mwenezi West.

“Disorder in the form of a missing polling station was reported in Glen View North Constituency in Harare. The polling station that was meant to be situated at Glen View 1 Shopping Centre could not be located. Potential voters who were allocated to the polling station in question were reportedly wandering in the area as they had not been briefed on way forward.

“Efforts to vote at nearby polling stations were in vain as the potential voters were also turned away. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials at the Command Centre in Glenview acknowledged that the polling station is indeed missing and notified the Election Resource Centre (ERC) that affected voters must go to nearby polling stations failure of which the irregularity will only be rectified during the next voter registration exercise,” ERC reported.

It went on to say there was confusion surrounding allocation of polling stations resulting in disenfranchisement of would be voters in some parts of the country. Chirumana villagers in Hwedza North who were allocated to Chigwedere Primary polling station could not cast their votes following re-allocation to Chamatendere Primary School. Their names could not be found at both polling stations. The relevant ZEC District Officer reported that their names may have been rejected by the Biometric Voter Registration system to avoid “double entries.

The ERC encouraged ZEC to utilise the time between that incident and closure of polling stations to ensure that ZEC officials were transported to their respective polling stations to vote as ordered by the High Court of Zimbabwe.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende