THE European Union Observer Mission(EUOM) and the Commonwealth Observer Group have slammed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for asserting that they were ready to conduct the polls only to bungle, with a chaotic process on 23 August.
Presenting its preliminary statement on the elections, EUOM Chief observer, Fabio Massimo, told journalists that despite the chaos that characterised polling day, ZEC insisted beforehand that they were ready for polls.
“ZEC’s pre-electoral preparations went largely according to schedule. However, court disputes over candidate registration caused delays in ballot printing and impacted postal voting. Nevertheless, ZEC repeatedly said all systems are good to go. This was not the case on election day and re sulted in a second day of voting,” said Massimo.
Massimo’s sentiment was echoed by the Commonwealth Observer Group led by Ambassador Amina Mohamed who said, ZEC appeared prepared on the eve of the election only to experience several hiccups on polling day.
“Prior to election day, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had provided various assurances of its preparedness and readiness to conduct the elections as scheduled. However, on election day the late opening of polls due to the late arrival of ballot papers in the major urban areas of Harare and Bulawayo, raised concerns and heightened tensions, noting that these areas represent a significant proportion of the overall population,” said Mahomed.
She noted that the explanation of multiple litigation from the most affected provinces, Harare and Bulawayo, being the cause of delay in delivery of ballot papers is insufficient.
“While we note ZEC’s explanation regarding challenges with logistics and the impact of late court cases, we would welcome a more detailed explanation from ZEC in the coming days, and we will reflect further on this matter in our final report,” she added.
Polling day was marred with chaos and confusion in the capital city as well as Bulawayo and Manicaland. Many polling stations in Harare including Warren Park constituency had ballot papers arriving as late as 7pm and voting only commenced at 8pm to 8am the following day.
There were even reports of one man collapsing on the voting queue while waiting for the ballot papers. There was no communication from Zec, the presiding officers were absent from the polling stations and people waited for the whole day just hoping to vote.
Massimo commended Zimbabweans for such resilience. The Electoral Management Body has been slammed across the board by observer missions for poorly running the election.
Some members of the electorate could not find their names on the voters’ roll while others were sent from pillar to post in search of their names, the case of Mabvuku.
Others had found their names during voters’ roll inspection and on the *265# mobile platform but could not find it on the physical voters’ roll.
He added that the explanation on the late supply of ballot papers was insufficient and also took the opportunity to raise a stink over the lack of transparency with the official ballot, which he said the observer missions were supposed to get beforehand.