By Blessings Mashaya
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) slammed the door on MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday, saying there was no going back on poll preparations even as the main opposition party is attempting to put spanners into the works.
At its meeting with observers yesterday, Zec vice chairperson Emmanuel Magade said the dispatch of ballot papers was underway and would be completed in a few days.
The MDC Alliance had been adamant that no elections would take place unless there is a consensus on the printing, storage and distribution of ballot papers to be used in the July 30 synchronised polls.
Today, the Alliance is scheduled to meet Zec officials in last-ditch attempts to extract some concessions.
In light of Zec’s pronouncements, this is now a futile exercise.
Magade told observers yesterday that the printing of the ballot paper had been completed, repeating the commission’s previous stance that the designing, printing and distribution of the ballots was the exclusive right of Zec in terms of the Constitution.
“However, it is also a requirement of the law in terms of the section 52A of the Electoral Act (chapter 2;13) to provide all political parties and candidates including observers with information on the name of the printer, the total number of ballot papers printed and the number of ballot papers distributed to each polling station,” he said.
“This is going to be done after the printing and dispatch of the ballot papers is completed in a few days’ time”.
Magade revealed that Zec has received reports that some observers had accosted its staff with regard to the distribution of electoral material, including ballot paper.
He warned that any interference with Zec’s functions may be regarded as interruption of its duties, which is prohibited in terms of the law.
“All stakeholders are therefore reminded to adhere to their respective codes to avoid flouting the country’s laws,” said Magade.
He said the issue of electoral reforms was a done deal.
“It was done in Parliament. I don’t know if all the parties got what they wanted. This is not Zec’s baby. We only implement laws,” he declared.
Magade also added his voice to concerns over the placement of Zanu PF’s presidential candidate on the ballot.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is featured on top of the second column of the ballot paper even though he should be on the lower end of the list if the alphabetical order were to be followed.
Magade said Zec can no longer comment on the matter as it is now before the courts.
Yesterday, the MDC Alliance insisted they will not back down unless Zec allows them to have a random test of the ballot papers.
Zec commissioner Qubani Moyo said they were considering views from opposition parties that voting booths should be out of reach of officials to maintain the secrecy of the vote.
Moyo said at the start of the printing process, parties were given samples of the paper used to print the ballots.
At their meeting on Friday last week, he said their representatives were also given the full ballot for the three elections — presidential, National Assembly and council — for them to go and test for themselves.
“I can also give you the same ballot papers if you want to go and test as the media. We are differentiating between what politicians say for the purpose of rallying their supporters and factual position,” he said.
“We gave (MDC secretary-general Douglas) Mwonzora and (Chamisa’s chief election agent Jameson) Timba those papers. They know that. What they are talking about, I don’t know. I think they are just playing with the minds of their supporters,” said Moyo.
Mwonzora confirmed the development yesterday, but they doubted Zec’s sincerity.
“Yes, it’s true they gave us what they call samples of the ballot papers. However, they gave us what they wanted to give us without us choosing the ballot papers we want to test. We want a random test and participate in the storage and delivering of this ballot papers,” said Mwonzora. Daily News