Helen Kadirire 8 May 2017
HARARE – Ahead of next year’s elections, the Zimbabwe Association of
Doctors for Human Rights (Zadhr) wants government to set up polling
stations at hospitals to enable on duty medical practitioners to vote.
In a petition to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the body
mandated with running elections in the country, Zadhr board secretary
Evans Masitara, said although doctors and nurses must be placed on
essential services category just as is the case with security forces, that
is not presently the case.
“Zimbabwe will be holding a general election in 2018 and we understand
that the process of preparing for the election is already underway. We
believe not much has been done to extend the essential services privileges
to medical practitioners as has been extended to the army and police for
the purpose of enhancing their participation in the electoral processes.
“Special facilities such as establishment of polling stations are granted
to the security forces and it is our request that those be extended to
health professionals at central and provincial hospitals for the 2018
elections as these facilities host a large proportion of the health
workforce at a given time,” Masitara said.
The Zadhr board secretary said by placing the polling stations at
hospitals and clinics it would assist in preventing interruptions to
service delivery by health professionals in their quest to exercise their
right to vote.
“Further the increased access to polling centres will encourage
participation of the cadres in the process. A snap survey done by our
association revealed that about 30 percent of eligible voters who work in
the health sector participated in the last general elections,” he said.
Zadhr executive director Calvin Fambirai said in the Electoral Amendment
Bill, patients and key staff manning hospitals and clinics whether inside
or outside Zimbabwe, cannot vote because they cannot get postal votes.
“Constitutionally everyone who is eligible to vote should do so, however,
doctors and nurses will be at work on the day and they are not provided
with facilities according to the Constitution for them to vote regardless
of being in the country,” he said.
In the amendment of the Bill there is no provision that will allow doctors
and nurses to cast their votes.
Presently, opposition parties uniting under the banner National Electoral
Reform Agenda have been piling up pressure on government to reform Zec
which they allege in its current form is packed with personnel with links
to the country’s security arms.