By Simplicius Chirinda
Harare 31 July, 2013 – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) brushed aside reports of electoral irregularities saying it has run a credible poll even though there were reported incidents of suspiciously high numbers of assisted voters at some polling stations and the turning away of recently registered voters.
ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau told a press briefing Wednesday evening that she is satisfied that her commission had delivered a clean and peaceful poll so far.
“We would like to commend all citizens for a peaceful election and hope the status quo would prevail even after the election,” she said whe addressing a press briefing which was also flighted live on state broadcaster ZBC which initially delayed proceedings as it was battling its usual technical issues.
Makarau dismissed concerns that there was a suspiciously high number of assisted voters in Mashonaland Central. For example she was advised of a single polling station in the province which recorded about 50 assisted voters.
In response she said, “this we believe is quite in order as we believe everyone who needs assistance should be assisted.”
“I believe the election was free and fair hope the reports would vindicate me,” she added.
Meanwhile, a number of polling stations that Radio VoP visited in the evening had cleared voter queues but ZEC said all those who happen to be in line to vote at the time of the closure of polling stations at 7 PM must be allowed to cast their votes.
For its part the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reported some irregularities in the manned in which the election has been run.
Tendai Biti, MDC Secretary General told the media in the afternoon that the election won’t be free and fair.
“This election is marred by a lot of irregularities and our participation should not be seen as condonation. We have already said, we were participating in it with a heavy heart,” said Biti.
He added highlighting a number of irregularities that his party had uncovered.
He gave the example of some irregularities in Chipinge North where the face of the MDC candidate was put on that of the ZANU Ndonga candidate. Despite this Biti said polling was allowed to take place in the area.
The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) said in a statement that some of these irregularities might undermine the credibility of the election.
“It is regrettable that the voters roll remained unavailable and thus can potentially undermine the credibility of the electoral process,” said
Meanwhile, hundreds of voters were earlier being turned away after finding their names on the voters’ roll but without indication of their wards. MDC-T immediately registered its complaint to ZEC
Most of the affected were those who registered to vote in the second phase of the voter registration exercise which ended on July 9.
The aspiring voters, despite having in their possession registration slips being the date they did register, their identity document numbers and the wards they are sopped to vote in are being denied.
Justice Makarau, during the live televised press briefing told journalists that ZEC had directed that such disenfranchised voters should be allowed to vote and a separate list would be compiled.