by PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
ACTIVISTS Team Pachedu yesterday hit back at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), accusing it of failing to address discrepancies observed in the voters roll.
“We would like to put it on record that Team Pachedu has indeed written our concerns to Zec and they have not responded. We have also personally sent them requests demanding various information, which they have ignored,” Team Pachedu said in a statement.
“For the commission to say we are publishing our findings without seeking clarification is completely false. As stated above, we have written to Zec and they refused to respond to us. (Zec chief elections officer Utoile) Silaigwana is also trying to deceive the public when he says, ‘the commission has a duty to protect voters’ information which they supplied in confidence’.”
It said Zec’s claim that it was only accountable to Parliament was also false.
“The Electoral Act requires Zec to keep voters and the general public informed. One such way to do that is to gazette any changes it makes to the voters roll which have not expressly been requested by the voter. Zec has never gazetted a list of changes they have made,” it said.
“It is also regrettable that Zec continues to disown its own voters roll. All the anomalies we are picking up in what Zec claims to be a fake, tampered with roll are reflected on their own BVR inspection site. Does that mean they are also using a fake voters roll on their website?”
Team Pachedu said the Electoral Act stipulated that the voters roll was a public document, which members of the public were entitled to access.
Meanwhile, Zec has awarded Fidelity Printers and Refiners and Printflow contracts to print ballot papers for by-elections scheduled for March 26.
The ballot papers have already been printed, a situation which analysts said will not allow political parties to scrutinise them for possible mistakes.
In a statement yesterday, Silaigwana said Fidelity Printers and Refiners printed 870 550 ballot papers for the National Assembly by-elections, while Printflow printed 723 750 for the local authority by-elections.
Both printing companies are based in Harare.
“The total number of the ballot papers printed for the National Assembly and local authorities had a 6,99% and 6,71% contingency, respectively,” Silaigwana said.
But the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change interim deputy secretary for elections Ellen Shiriyedenga yesterday told NewsDay that Zec did not communicate to them about printing of the ballot paper.
“Zec did not communicate to us about the printing of the ballot papers even at the district liaison committees. Yes, they have issued an election notice that the ballot papers have already been printed, but that is inadequate. If there are errors on the ballot paper, for example, a name of a candidate, then how is that going to be rectified when the ballot papers have already been printed?”
Zimbabwe Elections Advocacy Trust executive director Ignatius Sadziwa said ballot paper printing lacked transparency.
“It’s a pity that Zec is still adamant and acting in bad faith to date. Their nocturnal approach to business is a serious breach of the Constitution. By allocating Fidelity Printers and Printflow contracts of such magnitude without going to tender, they have breached section 298(1)(a) of the Constitution which stresses transparency and accountability in all financial matters in government institutions,” Sadziwa said.
He said Zec’s failure to consult stakeholders and its continued blundering would have adverse effects on the fairness and credibility of the by-elections.
Elections Resource Centre programmes manager Solomon Bobosibunu said: “The ballot paper is a security document. Its printing should be tendered. Those that have printed it are government institutions. Our concern is how were the stakeholders participating in the by-elections consulted over printing of ballot papers? In terms of excess, 6,99% is actually within international standards but 6% should be sufficient.”