THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced that over 300 000 people were turned away from polling stations while as many as 206 000 were assisted to vote during the just-ended harmonised elections.
REPORT BY WONAI MASVINGISE August 9, 2013 in Elections 2013
The revelation reinforced aggrieved political parties’ claims of massive vote theft and a flawed electoral process.
The official statistics were released in Press statements published by Zec yesterday.
According to Zec figures, the number of voters turned away constitutes 8,7% of the total votes cast while that of assisted voters amounted to 5,9%.
In a preliminary report of what Zec calls unverified statistics, urban areas had the highest figures of people turned away while the combined Zanu PF strongholds of Mashonaland provinces had the highest number of assisted voters.
Masvingo, as an individual province, recorded the highest number of assisted voters with 34 950 while Harare had the highest number of persons turned away totalling 64 483.
In 2008, the MDC-T almost made a clean sweep of votes in Masvingo while Harare is a traditional MDC-T stronghold.
Manicaland recorded 31 277 assisted voters and 42 525 persons were turned away while Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West had 34 044, 27 974, 23 166 people assisted to vote respectively. The number of people turned away in Mashonaland Central was 18 517, Mashonaland East 20 464 and Mashonaland West 56 733.
In Midlands, 35 543 people were turned away while 25 312 were assisted to vote.
In Bulawayo 2 313 voters were assisted and 11 388 turned away. In Matabeleland North and South 14 314 and 9 462 people were assisted to vote respectively while 14 424 and 11 521 were turned away respectively.
Zec issued another statement yesterday seeking to explain the figures it had published the previous day. The commission attributed the high number of voters who were turned away to reasons such as lack of proper documents and non-appearance of their names on the voters’ roll.
On the huge number of voters assisted to cast their ballots, Zec cited a high turnout of elderly and physically challenged people as major reasons.
“There was a high turnout of the old-aged people in this election which category has a high illiteracy rate,” said the electoral body.
But MDC deputy spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said the figures confirmed that the electoral process was flawed.
“The figures from Zanu PF strongholds confirm that this was a flawed process. The figures are just unbelievably ridiculous. The same figures have seriously exposed Zec and Zanu PF. Only fools can endorse Mugabe victory. It is now clear that one of the political players, particularly Zanu PF, stole the elections,” Chihwayi said.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said Zec’s figures, although grossly understated, showed the electoral process was flawed and this would be proved in their court application which he said they would file today.
MDC-T went on to file the application yesterday.
“We do not agree with those figures at all and our court application will prove that those figures are wrong. Zec has conveniently forgotten to include the figures of those who voted using voter registration slips,” Mwonzora said.
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni told a Press conference that assisted voting was used to intimidate voters.
“Voting was not free of intimidation. There are widespread reports of high numbers of voters seeking assistance, either on account of illiteracy or poor sight. Interestingly, the high incidence of assisted voters occurred in the rural areas,” Makoni said.
“Given the high level of literacy in Zimbabwe, and the low level of assisted voters in 2008, it is disingenuous to suggest that Zimbabweans are less literate in 2013 than they were in 2008.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said he could not comment on the matter as he was busy.
In its preliminary report on the July 31 poll the African Union (AU) observer mission raised concerns over the high number of assisted voters and those turned away.
“The Mission notes with great concern the high incidence of voters who were turned away at polling stations,” the AU said.
The AU observer mission also raised concern over the high number of assisted voters especially in Muzarabani and Mashonaland Central.
“Examples include polling stations in Muzarabani District, Mashonaland Central; at Musengezi, at the time of observation, 97 voters out of 370 were assisted; Kapembere Primary School, 77 voters out of 374 were assisted and Bore Primary School 85 voters out of 374 were assisted,” the AU said.