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ZEC accused of changing CCC ballot symbols to confuse voters on election day

The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of changing its party symbols on ballot papers to confuse supporters on election day.

The CCC party lodged a complaint over the printing of ballot papers in black and white on Tuesday saying the move had the potential to confuse the electorate.

The Nelson Chamisa led party addressed a letter to ZEC chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana dated March 21, 2022, complaining that the electoral dody had changed party symbols.

The CCC said its symbols had an inscribed description of a “yellow square background, circular words surrounding Chamisa’s face with letters CCC inside a black triangle”.

“In view of this, the CCC wishes to express its concern regarding the variation in its party symbol. The yellow background is not reflected on the party logo as witnessed by the party candidates during the ballot paper verification exercise,” read a letter by CCC secretary for elections Ian Makoni.

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“The sample ballot paper is not an exact depiction of our party intent, hence a violation of our party identity. It is in this regard that Zec considers such concerns seriously and rectifies them as per the requirements of the law of the land.”

CCC recently commissioned activist group Team Pachedu to analyse the voters roll. The group discovered serious anomalies which included alleged transfer of over 170 000 voters from their wards without their consent.

This comes as the country is set to hold by-elections this coming Saturday to fill vacant seats in the National Assembly and local government. Harmonised general elections are scheduled for 2023.

In an interview with NewsDay ZEC spokesperson Jasper Mangwana said they were not obliged to print ballot papers in colour.

“Zec is not obliged to print ballot papers in colour/s that correspond to contesting candidates or parties. The applicable provisions that relate to printing of the ballot paper are in section 52A of the Electoral Act and section 5 of the Electoral Regal SI 21 of 2005,” Mangwana said in a series of tweets following concerns raised by the CCC that its symbols had been tampered with.

“The sections do not at all bind the commission to print any ballot papers in the manner the party is alleging. What is important is to distinguish the colour of the ballot paper depending on the type of election as envisaged by section 5 of the electoral regulations.”

“The law does not require the commission to print the photograph or symbol of the party in colour. It is unfortunate that the party went on to educate its supporters without consulting with the commission on the contents and form of (the) ballot paper.”

ZEC has been accused of being compromised after it indicated that it worked with members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIOs) and ex-soldiers.

Last month, ZEC acting CEO Jane Pamhidzirai Chigidji defended recruiting members of the secret service.

“The correct position of the law is that, Section 239j of the Constitution of Zimbabwe gives the commission broad power to instruct any person in the employment of the State or a local authority for purposes of ensuring the efficiency, free, fair, proper and transparent conduct of any election or referendum. So, in essence it would be unlawful if an employee of the State would engage in Commission’s duties without instructed by it,” she said.