Con-Court to rule on security forces’ vote

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HARARE – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) said yesterday it was approaching the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to allow security personnel, who failed to vote during the chaotic two-day special vote, to cast their ballot on July 31.

In an address to international, regional and local observers, Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe said it was the electoral body’s desire to have the members of the disciplined forces allowed to exercise their constitutional right to vote after failing to cast their ballot on July 15.

Accepting responsibility for the chaos that characterised the special vote, Kazembe said the commission would approach the Con-Court with a view of persuading it to consider that it was not the security forces’ fault that they could not cast their vote but the logistical challenges that blighted the electoral body.

Kazembe said Zec would not therefore be challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of the Electoral Act’s Section 81B:2 that prohibit persons who fail to vote after being authorised to cast a special vote to do so on the normal day of voting but to seek to have it ignored on the basis that their failure was not in any way attributable to an omission on their part.

“The commission has been in discussions with political players on the way forward because it is our desire to have them allowed to exercise their constitutional right whatever the law says,” Kazembe said.

“The matter is going to be heard by the Constitutional Court and we are preparing the papers seeking authority to ignore the provisions of the Electoral Act.”

Section 81B:2 of the Electoral Act says: “A voter who has been authorised to cast a special vote shall not be entitled to vote in any other manner than by casting a special vote in terms of this part.”

Out of the over 69 000 members of the disciplined forces that applied for special voting, only 37 108 successfully cast their ballots while 26 160 failed for various reasons, according to Zec.

The electoral body’s commissioners also informed the various observer missions who included Sadc, the African Union, Comesa as well as local observers that it was ready for a credible, free and fair election despite the challenges it faced during the special vote.

Kazembe said the number of polling stations which currently stand at  9 670 countrywide could be increased in areas where voter turnout is expected to be high.

She however, said the polling stations would only be known to the public on polling day.

“There have been concerns about the inadequacy of polling stations in areas where higher voter turnout is anticipated particularly in informal settlements such as Epworth,” Kazembe said.

“These will be increased based on demand and the final list of the actual polling stations there will be, shall be published on polling day.”

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