Tsvangirai ballots found in litter bin

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HARARE – A batch of special ballot papers cast in favour of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were on Thursday found dumped in dustbins at the elections National Command Centre in Harare, the MDC leader claimed on Friday.

Tsvangirai showed the dumped ballot papers — ?reportedly retrieved in a dust bin at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) National Command Centre in Harare — to reporters at a news conference at Harvest House, the MDC headquarters in central Harare. 

“Yesterday (Thursday), we found out that some ballots which were cast under the special voting provisions, found themselves in dust bins,” Tsvangirai told reporters.

“I have got evidence here of just one of the ballots that were found at HICC (Harare International Conference Centre)  in its envelope but now finding itself in the dustbin and not in the counting station. It is not the only one, there were a couple of them in the dust bin.”

Lovemore Sekeramayi, Zec chief elections officer, requested written questions from the Daily News, which were not responded to at the time of going to print last night.

Over 37 000 security officers and Zec officials who will be on duty during Election Day cast their vote under the special voting system on July 15 and 16.

The MDC leader claimed a number of ?envelopes of special ballot slips were found open during the tallying exercise and some tamper-proof translucent envelopes were found torn. Tsvangirai said Zec has failed to conduct a credible election despite their best attempt, citing “military intervention and shenanigans by Zanu PF to manipulate the poll.”

“There is a bureaucratic organ called the national logistics committee which is a committee of civil servants. It has now been taken over by the military,” Tsvangirai said.

“The most insidious revelation is that this has now become a militarised unit.

“For example, on the transfer of the special vote to the provinces, usually they are transferred by (the State-run) CMED (Central Mechanical Equipment Department) and it is now the military drivers who are transporting this,” he said. Tsvangirai said the interference by the military has resulted in widespread discrepancies in figures of ballot papers sent from the ?National Command Centre with those ?received at provincial centres.

“The consequence of this is that the voting that was registered here at the head office is not tallying with the result in the provinces,” Tsvangirai said. “Manicaland as an example, the numbers are not tallying and many, many others of that nature.”

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Tsvangirai said the hurdles in this year’s election goes back to voter registration, saying a clique in Zec and Zanu PF fought so hard to ensure that a number of potential voters in most urban areas were disfranchised.

The MDC said the failure by Zec, through the Registrar General of Voters, to make public the voters’ roll in time makes the credibility of the voter register disputable.  He said a number of registered people who voted in 2008 have their names missing on the roll.

Tsvangirai said the voters’ roll was replete with names of dead persons and underage people who did not even register to vote.

“Inspection of this roll leaves a lot to be desired, there is over registration of old people,” Tsvangirai said. “How can one justify the existence of a 150-year-old person on the roll, appearance of underage people on the roll, ?appearance of Diasporans in the voters’ roll? All this leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.

“There is a lot of transfer of people in the voters’ roll in Hatfield, Harare East, and Mount Pleasant. For example, at Chikurubi with 200 officers there, you all of a sudden have 6 000 registered voters!

“In Mount Pleasant, we have 11 000 voters who have been registered, people living at KGVI, we have 10 000 people registered there, I don’t know whether we have anyone living at KGVI (a military headquarters),” Tsvangirai said.

“There is a decrease in the number of polling stations perceived to be MDC strongholds such as Harare. Harare with over 1,2 million population has 830 stations compared to Midlands  which has 762 000 people, it has 1 341 polling stations,” said the premier.

Tsvangirai also claimed Zec is secretly printing ballot papers without the knowledge of other political parties participating in this election. He said the commission is printing over eight million ballots papers against a demand of 6.4 million registered voters.

“In terms of the law, parties are entitled to have information around the printing of ballot papers, but this information is not available,” Tsvangirai said. “We understand that Fidelity Printers have printed about 8.2 million ballot papers and the same number for the parliamentary ballot.

“For the special ballot, we understand that Zec asked for 250 000 ballots, for presidential 195 000, the same printers are now being used to print papers for council. The question is if you have 6.4 million voters, why print eight million ballot papers?”

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