Citizens who flocked the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) offices in Bulawayo to regularise their voter status after the names mysteriously vanished from the voter’s roll have cast doubt on the commission’s competence to conduct free and fair elections slated for August.
Several disgruntled persons who talked to CITE said ZEC should admit to President Emmerson Mnangagwa that they are in a crisis and that he cannot proclaim the election date until they fix their “mess.”
At its provincial offices in Famona on Tuesday, ZEC officers were handing out registration forms that people were filling out, promising to transfer the information into their systems.
Despite ZEC’s repeated assurances the elections will be free and fair, citizens said the ability to choose their preferred candidate let alone vote in the polls was in serious doubt.
This situation was also compounded by the alleged transfer of military and other state security forces from one polling station to other wards while the news crew observed a number of recruits from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services who had come to register.
A soldier stationed at Llewellin Barracks, now Lookout Masuku Barracks, alleged most military personnel were moved from their polling station to vote in Umguza.
He said his polling station was at the Roman Catholic Church in Paddonhurst but was moved to Mbizo Grey tent in Umguza.
On Monday, a group of about 40 soldiers who went to check their names at the Roman Catholic Church found that the voters’ roll found that they had been moved to other stations.
A male resident from Nguboyenja said he had been moved to Pumula.
“I checked my name using the *265# code and learnt that I was to vote at Pumula Ward 17 yet all along, I was voting in Ward 8 Jairos Jiri in Nguboyenja. Pumula is too far,” he said.
Another resident said he had checked for his name at six different polling stations within Entumbane.
“In 2018, I voted at Entumbane High School in 2018 but my name is not on the list. I was told I must go to the Roman Catholic Church but I didn’t find it. I was referred to ZAOGA, Mthombo WeSizwe school and Manyoni, but it wasn’t there. I even went to Entumbane Hall and my name was still not there,” he said, adding he also checked on the mobile phone, saved the screenshot showing his details were not there.
Another female QueensPark West resident stated her and her husband’s names did not appear at the Newmansford Primary polling location.
“I have been told our names are there but the ZEC officials failed to explain when they will synchronise the names because the officials said they are very busy,” she said.
Obert Manduna, one of the people on the queue, said the numbers of people who had flocked to the offices was a sign that they were “eager to vote.”
“We are seeing first timers, those who are transferring from their polling stations and others are here to check their names having not found them at their respective centres,” he said.
An elderly man was told he is registered at Khumalo Hillside Junior after he failed to locate his name on the electronic roll.
“ZEC is dead, they must rather cancel the elections or the registration process because even if two names are not on the voters’ roll, the elections have lost credibility,” he said.
A group of women who said they lived in Ward 26 were moved to Ward 25.
“Fairness is knowing where you belong and going to vote there, not to be told to go and vote elsewhere,” said one woman.
Another woman added changing voters’ wards is a way of forcing them to vote for another candidate they do not know.
“Moving us to another ward means voting for someone who is not my candidate. The president should not announce the election date before this disorder has been sorted. The truth must reach the president’s ears that ZEC is struggling,” she said.
“ZEC must tell the president the truth. If their plan is a genuine system failure they must say, ‘these are computers’ and ask for more time.”
An elderly woman said these registration procedures had aged her to the point that she thought she was about 100 years old, was moved from Ward 26 to Ward 25.
Meanwhile, in the city centre, a group of Zanu PF members were ‘shocked’ to hear that the voters’ roll inspection station at the city hall only had 60 names.