FAZ exit poll points debate rages months on 

Source: FAZ exit poll points debate rages months on –Newsday Zimbabwe

THE setting up of exit poll desks by the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ) outfit during the August 23/24 elections is an international practice, a report has revealed.

The recently published The Sentry report on FAZ  revealed that though the practice was common, it was, however, abused by the Zanu PF party which went as far as intimidating voters at polling stations.

 

 

Opposition parties accused FAZ of “illegally” setting up poll exit points to intimidate the electorate to vote in favour of Zanu PF.

“On election day, FAZ set up tables near polling stations and asked people how they voted. In some other countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom, this practice — so long as it is not within the boundaries of the polling station — is also commonplace,” the report read.

“A party will record its ‘promises’ from previous canvassing and later knock on the doors of those who have not yet voted as part of a get-out-the-vote campaign.”

In South Africa’s May 29 elections, different political parties setup poll exit points with those manning them donning party regalia.

 

 

The report, however, noted that the poll exit points were politically abused during Zimbabwe’s last polls.

“For example, one voter told human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs): ‘Villagers in ward 11 have been summoned by the FAZ chairperson who is in Zanu PF regalia and he is telling people that they are going to vote for Zanu PF, while writing down their names in a book,” the report read.

“It seems like people have been told that a register with their names will be available on the election day and each person with their name written in the book will be voting for Zanu PF.

“Another complaint made to NGOs was that voting data could be used to withhold State-distributed seed and fertiliser, an important tool of persuasion in rural areas.’

In an interview, Heal Zimbabwe Trust advocacy officer Tapiwa Chiriga reiterated that despite the legality of poll exit points, in the case of Zimbabwe, they were abused.

“Exit polls in a normal democracy are not illegal. In Zimbabwe, however, a number of these exit poll (points) especially in Mashonaland Central and Masvingo were illegally stationed within the prohibited 300m radius of the polling station,” he said.

“What we saw on August 23, 2023 in Zimbabwe were not ordinary exit poll desks but intimidation desks where voters were forced to declare allegiance to the ruling (party) and reminded of dire consequences should they choose any other party in the voting booth.

“In the rural areas, traditional (leaders) were forced to marshal their subjects to polling stations with the threat of violence hanging over their heads. The kind of intimidation that these desks represented were criminal and exactly what section 133A of the Electoral Act defines and is prohibited by section 133B.”

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