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Ballot Paper Printing and Postal Voting Press Statement 02 July 2018

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Ballot Paper Printing and Postal Voting Press Statement 02 July 2018


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has intensified its preparations for the 2018 Harmonised Elections. In a bid to resolve conflicts the Commission has set up Multi-party Liaison
Committees (MPLC) countrywide. These Committees shall work for the good of all stakeholders, especially political parties in the run up to elections as intra-party and inter-party
conflicts inevitably happen during this period. Of importance to note is the function of the Committees meant to bring peace and harmony in communities. These Committees have no legal basis to usurp the powers of the Commission but enable the Commission to act as a referee in conflict resolution efforts.

The Commission is, however, disturbed to note that some political parties do not appreciate the role of the Commission in these MPLCs and are not willing to see ZEC chairing the Committees as ascribed by the law owing to mistrust towards the electoral management body arising from unfounded allegations. The Commission is therefore calling upon all stakeholders to be well acquainted with the Electoral Act which clearly spells out the functions of ZEC and its role in relation to the functions of MPLCs during elections.

Stakeholders should also take note that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is an independent body as outlined by the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

Provisions of Section 10A of the Electoral Act guarantee the independence of the Commission:
(1) Every Commissioner and member of staff of the Commission shall perform their functions independently.
(2) The State and any private person (including a private voluntary organisation), and any other person, body, organ, agency or institution belonging to or employed by the State or any private person a local 17 authority or otherwise, shall not interfere with, hinder or obstruct the Commission, its Commissioners or any member of staff of the Commission, in the
exercise or performance of their functions.
(3) The State and any person, body, organ, agency or institution, belonging to or employed by the State, shall afford the Commission such assistance as may be reasonably required for the protection of the independence, impartiality and dignity of the Commission.

Ballot paper printing
Ballot paper printing for the Presidential and National Assembly elections is already underway at Fidelity Printers while printing of local authority elections ballot paper is being done at Prinflow.

In the spirit of transparency and stakeholder engagement, the Commission invited stakeholders including representatives of all political parties contesting presidential elections, local and foreign observers, embassies as well as civic society and faith based organizations to witness ballot paper printing at Fidelity Printers last Friday. Whilst 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.
However, the Commission 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.

The Commission views such demands as an abuse of the right to transparency.

According to Section 239(g) of the Constitution, the designing and printing and distribution of 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. However, the Multi–Party Liaison Committee is currently tasked with building consensus around this area.

To enhance transparency in the electioneering process, the law also compels the Commission to publish the name of the ballot paper printer and the number of ballots printed. This will be done at the conclusion of the printing process.

Section 52A of 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 ten per cent the number of registered voters eligible to vote in the election. ZEC shall provide to all political parties and candidates contesting in the upcoming election, the total number of ballot papers that have been printed for the election; and the number of ballot papers that have been distributed to each polling station. ZEC shall continue engaging all stakeholders on this and other issues on logistical arrangements of ballot paper printing and distribution.

Postal voting

Postal voting applications closed on 28 June 2018. The Commission has received about 7200 postal vote applications and they are being processed. However, this does not mean that all the applications will be considered as some of them may not be on the voters’ roll. If the Commission is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a postal vote, the Chief Elections Officer shall issue a postal ballot paper to the applicant by placing in an envelope addressed to the applicant—
(a) the postal ballot paper; and
(b) a covering envelope addressed to Chief Elections Officer; and
(c) a smaller envelope marked ―Ballot Paper Envelope‖ on the back of which shall be written
the name of the voter, his or her voter registration number, and the constituency and ward in
which, and the address of the polling station at which he or she is registered; and
(d) an unmarked envelope to be used in accordance with section 75(1)(b).

The Chief Elections Officer shall keep a list of all postal ballot papers issued, which list shall contain the following details of every person to whom such a ballot paper has been issued—
(a) the person’s name and address; and
(b) the person’s voter registration number; and
(c) the constituency and ward in which, and the address of the polling station at which, the person is registered; and shall permit the list to be inspected by members of the public, free of charge, until the declaration of the result of the poll, when it shall be dealt with in terms of section 70(3).
(4) The Chief Elections Officer shall ensure that the voters roll supplied to each polling station in terms of section 76 for the purposes of the election has a line drawn through every voter in the constituency who has been issued with a postal ballot paper, and shall inscribe opposite that person’s name the letters ―P.V.‖

Alleged use of same residential address by many voters

The Commission would like to categorically deny that there are addresses with 400 registered voters on the final voters roll. The stand number 100086 Unit G Chitungwiza alluded to by some press reports is in fact a church shrine with 122 voters which is contrary to some press reports that it has 400 voters.

We urge all stakeholders to report responsibly and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes peace and tranquility in the electoral process. We urge all stakeholders to verify their information before going public. After all the right to reply is a tenet of responsible reporting.

It should be noted that through the use of affidavits a residential address can have many registered voters.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission remains committed to free, fair and credible elections and continues to urge all stakeholders, to conduct themselves in a responsible manner.

Hon. Mrs. Justice PM Chigumba
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission