Saturday 12 August 2023


THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has started printing ballot papers for the presidential election and for more than a dozen National Assembly constituencies that had been affected by poll-related court cases.

These have since been concluded.

Eleven candidates will appear on the presidential ballot, including MDC-T leader Mr Douglas Mwonzora, who missed the 21-day deadline for candidates to pull out of the race after announcing his withdrawal from the poll on Tuesday.

It has emerged ZEC only received Mr Mwonzora’s withdrawal letter, dated August 2, last Tuesday, just 15 days before election day.

Incumbent President Mnangagwa of ZANU PF leads the line-up of contestants that also includes Mr Joseph Makamba Busha (FreeZim Congress), Mr Blessing Kasiyamhuru (Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity) and Professor Lovemore Madhuku (National Constitutional Assembly).

Also on the ballot are Mr Trust Tapiwa Chikohora (Zimbabwe Coalition for Peace and Development), Mr Gwinyai Henry Muzorewa (United African National Council), Mr Nelson Chamisa (Citizens Coalition for Change), Mr Wilbert Mubaiwa (National People’s Congress), Mrs Elisabeth Valerio (United Zimbabwe Alliance) and Mr Harry Peter Wilson (Democratic Official Party).

ZEC said it will soon be ready to dispatch ballot papers to more than 17 000 people who have been cleared to cast their vote ahead of polling day — August 23.

A myriad of poll-related court cases had forced the election management body to suspend ballot printing.

Government has since gazetted Statutory Instrument 140A of 2023, which extends the deadline for submission of postal voting materials to ZEC from August 9 to August 20, as a result of the delays occasioned by the court cases.

In an interview ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana said: “Yes, the commission has begun the process of printing presidential election ballot papers.

“The process is expected to be complete soon to allow time for distribution of postal ballot papers to all successful (postal voting) applicants.

“A total of 11 presidential candidates will appear on the ballot paper.

“The commission issued a statement to the effect that Section 107 of the Electoral Act allows presidential candidates to withdraw their candidature no later than 21 days from polling day.

“While the letter of withdrawal by the MDC-T presidential candidate is dated August 2, 2023, it was only delivered to ZEC on August 8, 2023.

“It, therefore, means that the purported withdrawal was out of time and could not be recognised at law, hence the MDC-T candidate will remain on the ballot paper.”

Distribution of postal voting material is expected to commence soon.

“The law now says the ballots can reach their intended polling stations three days before polling day,” he continued.

“In the absence of a court order barring the commission from printing (National Assembly) ballot papers, the process will go on.”

He said ZEC was satisfied with the current electoral environment, “save for a few reported cases of violence”.

“Apart from that, all pointers are for a peaceful election, judging by messages of peace coming from various stakeholders,” he added.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the courts had expeditiously dealt with all election-related cases.

“In any democracy, when you have a process, an aggrieved party can approach the courts for redress.

“So, what we saw indicates that our people are aware of their rights and whenever they felt aggrieved, they went to court for redress.

“It is part of the democratic culture, and we allowed it,” said Minister Ziyambi.

“So, there is nothing really at the moment that stops ZEC from proceeding with the elections.

“Currently, everything is set . . . We are set for August 23.

“The courts noticed the urgency of the cases and the majority of cases, if not all of them, have been resolved.

“Now, there is nothing that will stop the electoral process from proceeding.” Sunday Mail


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