Tuesday, 3 July 2018

7 200 APPLY FOR POSTAL VOTING

ABOUT 7 200 people, the majority of them diplomats, have applied for postal voting in the July 30 elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has said.

Applications for postal voting for security officials and others that will be away on national duty on the day of voting closed last Thursday. In a statement yesterday, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said applications for postal voting were being processed.

“The Commission has received about 7 200 postal vote applications and they are being processed. However, this does not mean that all applications will be considered as some of them may not be on the voters’ roll,” said Justice Chigumba.

In an interview yesterday, Zec acting Chief Elections Officer, Mr Utoile Silaigwana, said the majority of the applicants are diplomats who are deployed outside the country.

“We have received 7 200 people who applied, most of them diplomats as well as Zec officials but we are yet to verify some of those who applied,” said Mr Silaigwana. The country will be holding a ward-based election on July 30.
According to the law, postal voting is only available to individuals who will be outside Zimbabwe on Government business on the polling day and their spouses. Postal voting is also only open to such people who apply to do so within 14 days after the sitting of the Nomination Court.

The successful applicants will be furnished with the voting material in advance and will be required to send their votes in sealed packets to the Chief Elections Officer at Zec at least 14 days before the actual date of the poll.

The Chief Elections Officer will then distribute the postal votes to their respective constituencies in their sealed envelopes within seven days of the date of the actual poll.

The postal votes are further dispatched to their respective ward centres before the actual poll. They are only opened for counting at the ward centre at the time of counting the votes for the ordinary poll.

Meanwhile, Justice Chigumba revealed that printing of ballot papers for the Presidential and National Assembly polls was underway at Fidelity Printers in Harare while the printing of ballot papers to be used for the local authority elections is being done at Printflow in Harare.

“The total number of ballot papers printed as well as the number to be distributed to each polling station will be notified in due course once the printing has been concluded,” she said.

The Electoral Act states that the Commission shall ensure that the number of ballot papers printed for any election does not exceed by more than 10 percent the number of registered voters eligible in the election.

She said in the spirit of transparency and stakeholder engagement, the Commission invited stakeholders including representatives of all political parties contesting in the Presidential elections, local and foreign observers, embassies as well as civil society and faith-based organisations to witness ballot paper printing at Fidelity Printers last Friday.

“While there is no legal obligation which compels the Commission to invite stakeholders to the printing process, the Commission saw it fit to allow stakeholders to witness the process in order to dispel unfounded and misleading myths,” said Justice Chigumba.

She said the Commission, however, noted with concern demands by some political parties to get very close to the printing machines which are located in an area with high security documents belonging to other clients.

Justice Chigumba said the Commission views such demands as an abuse of its desire for transparency.

“According to Section 239(g) of the Constitution, the designing and printing and distribution of the ballot papers are the sole responsibility of Zec. Anyone else other than Zec demanding to be involved in these functions directly or indirectly is deemed by the Commission as one attempting to usurp the powers and independence of the electoral management body,” she said.

Justice Chigumba said the Multi-Party Liaison Committee is currently tasked with building consensus around this area. Chronicle

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