Under fire ZEC promises to release ballot information by Friday

By Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) says it will release all the information relating to the printing and distribution of ballot papers by end of day Friday.

This follows pressure from the main opposition party, Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) which approached the courts through its elections bureau director Ian Makone demanding the release.

CCC sought an order that ZEC should avail the information on the ballots including where and by whom they were printed, the total number printed, their serial numbers and the details of all postal ballots printed and distributed.

In its urgent chamber application, CCC also said ZEC should ensure that the total number of ballot papers printed does not exceed, by more than 10 percent, the number of voters eligible to vote in the harmonised elections.

The matter was heard by High Court judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Monday before he granted an order with consent from both parties.

“It is ordered by consent that; the matter be and is hereby postponed to 21 August 2023 at 10am. Should the need to file opposing papers arise, the respondents (ZEC) shall file and serve their opposing papers on or before the 20th of August 2023.” reads a brief consent order.

In its application, CCC cited ZEC, its chairperson Priscilla Chigumba and the commission’s chief elections officer as the respondents.

Makone, in his founding affidavit, said that the application had been prompted by reports that the postal voting process had commenced on August 15.

He accused the commission of violating provisions of the Electoral Act which mandate that all political parties must be provided with information on ballot papers.

“Political parties and candidates participating in the election are entitled to be given all facilities that enable them to ensure compliance with this provision. This will also help them protect their just rights. The obligations set out under section 52A are peremptory and ZEC cannot dispense with their strict compliance.

“Neither first applicant nor any of its candidates have been given the details they are entitled to in terms of section 52A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) notwithstanding that the polling process has commenced. It is not even clear how many postal ballot papers have been printed. There is no explanation bearing on why that has been so.” reads his affidavit.

Makone said the conduct of the respondents is patently unlawful.

“Not only is the conduct unlawful, it constitutes an unnecessary blot on the credibility of the elections and is by extension a violation of the constitutional ideal in favour of a fair, free and credible election.”

He said the respondents are required by law to have shared the details set out under statute with us not least because that is what statute mandates, but also because the process of the printing of ballot papers can easily lead to the manipulation of election results.

After the hearing Advocate Thabani Mpofu said ZEC promised to release the information they are demanding.

“ZEC has advised that it will supply all the information relating to the printing and distribution of ballot papers. It has committed to doing so by the end of day on the 19th. Should the information not be to the satisfaction of the applicants, the matter will be argued on the 21st.”

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