ZEC challenged on voter education

By Daniel Chigundu

THE Election Resource Centre, Heal Zimbabwe Trust and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, working under a consortium banner of Rights-Heal-Elections (RHE) says the just ended Chiwundura by-elections has revealed that there is a need for more voter education.

Chiwundura National Assembly seat fell vacant following the death of then legislator Kizito Chivamba of Zanu PF sometime in April this year.

In its Election Day Statement, the consortium said the fact that some people were bringing their political party membership cards to vote is testimony enough that voter education was not fully conducted.

“The consortium also witnessed evidence of inadequate voter education as shown through voters observed bringing party cards instead of IDs with the intention to vote and turned away voters.

“At St Patrick’s Primary in Ward 9 it was noted that people ruled themselves out of voting when they failed to register during the ZEC initiated registration which happened 1-7 June 2017. Due to lack of information, such voters absented themselves wrongfully assuming that voting was only open to those that registered during the mentioned registration period.

“In fact, even those who appeared in the 2013 voters roll were eligible to vote as their names pre-existed in the supplementary voters roll used by ZEC during polling,” read the statement.

The consortium also highlighted the issue of lack of interest by voters as voter turnout was only 23.6 percent which is just 10 321 out of a voter population of 43 688 in the constituency.

According to the statement, at opening, most polling stations did not have queues with Gokomare farm hall (Ward 9) and St Severino (Ward 14) polling officials having to wait for 40 minutes before the first voter came through to cast a ballot.

The CSOs also took the opportunity to applaud professional conduct exhibited by polling officers at all the polling stations in the constituency.

“The consortium observed acceptable professional conduct of electoral officials at all centres observed, this is commendable considering that in previous by-elections it has been difficult for the observers and other stakeholders to engage with election officials especially Presiding Officers,” added the report.

Zanu PF candidate Brown Ndlovu, however, emerged as the eventual winner after garnering about 9 426, while Tafadzwa Guzete, Webster Zulu PDZ and Brighton Madzviti of FreeZin Congress got 445, 187 and 145 respectively.

Rejected votes were 187.

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