Printing of all ballot papers for the 2018 harmonised elections is about 99 percent complete and the under-fire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) says it will publicise all relevant issues regarding the ballots early this week.
This comes after the electoral body on Friday said it gave samples of the ballot papers to all parties for testing. Zec says it will also allow political parties and observers to inspect serial numbers of each and every ballot paper at the polling stations to ensure transparency.
The electoral body says all other logistics are in place for the election to be held next Monday as deployment of polling officers is expected to start on Thursday this week, with about 131 000 polling officers to be sent to over 10000 polling stations countrywide.
In an interview with the Sunday Mail, Zec acting chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said there will be no secrecy on the ballot paper.
“Printing of ballot papers for the 2018 harmonised elections is more than 95 percent complete, I can say even 99 percent and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will make a public statement on the ballot paper anytime from now.
“We are going to publicise all the necessary information about the ballot papers such as how many have been printed and how they have been distributed.
“We are undergoing final stages of printing because there have been changes to some of the candidates who were seeking to become councillors who have died and we had to make such alterations. We also received late withdrawals from candidates post nomination so these are just the final issues we are cleaning up before all the ballot papers are ready.”
He said final training of polling officers will be completed by Wednesday, followed by deployment the next day.
“After the training, the officers will be deployed from the 26th depending on the areas where they are based. The idea with the deployment is that we will have 3 full days from the day of deployment to ensure that there is adequate time. On the 29th, everything should be ready and we will do dress rehearsals of the actual polling process to perfect the process.
“There are 131 000 polling officers. We have rationalised the distribution of polling officers who will be determined by the number of voters in the specific area. This election is going to be polling station based and each station will have a maximum of 1 000 voters. There are going to be 10 985 President Officers because we are also going to have 10985 polling stations.”
Mr Silaigwana said Zec had also intensified voter education to acquaint prospective voters with the polling process.
“We have also trained voter educators and the voter education exercise is being complimented by civil society with 78 civil society organisations and faith based organisations.
“There is currently a blitz going on for voter education, through the various platforms in the media.
‘‘The voter education includes the step by step process which one has to undergo. So this is the voter education for the actual polling that is going to take place on 30 July.
“There is going to be three ballot papers, one for the President, for the National Assembly and for the local authorities.
“During the polling, we will also make sure that there will be 100 percent secrecy of the vote.
‘‘The placement of the ballot box will be done in such a way that guarantees maximum secrecy. There will be election agents at all polling stations,” he said.
“We are going to give the serial numbers of each and every ballot paper that is at every polling station. So that at the end of voting, they can be able to confirm that there will be no foreign ballot paper.
“At the end of polling, votes will be counted in the presence of agents, observers and journalists. Once counting is done, they will fill in the V11 forms. Presiding officers will give each candidate and all agents the same copy of the form for confirmation.
“Once this is done, the V11 forms will be submitted to ward election officers, who will in front of the agents and observers, collate the forms. The same process will be repeated at constituency, district and at provincial levels.”
The election will provide no clear winner, with 40 percent of voters choosing President Emmerson Mnangagwa and 37 percent his opponent, Nelson Chamisa, according to an Afrobarometer poll released on Friday.
The poll of 2,400 voting-age adults conducted between June 25 and July 6 found 20 percent of people would not disclose their choice. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote there will be a runoff on Sept. 8.
With elections a few days away, ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba came under fire from opposition supporters for failing to ensure transparency over the commission’s work.
Public anger against her mounted late last week after it was alleged that police officers in Bulawayo had been forced to vote in front of their commanding officers. The Sunday Mail/ Agencies