via People have lost faith in elections: ERC | The Zimbabwean by Own Correspondent 18.09.13
Zimbabweans have drastically reduced their interest in elections, barely six weeks after the July 31 national plebiscite, says the Election Resource Centre (ERC).
Figures from the run-off poll pitting candidates from Zanu (PF) party and its rival, the MDC-T, show that interest in voting has fallen by half. The contestants garnered equal votes in three wards during the run-off.
“There is a marked decrease in total number of valid votes cast in the three respective wards on September 11,” says the ERC, in its latest report, but does not specify reasons for the massive decline, save to note that there are fears of repeat in the election of mayors in Kwekwe, Rusape and Plumtree where the two political parties have an equal number of elected councillors.
“In the run-off Zanu (PF) gained votes in Ward 5 of Kusile and Ward 30 of Mutasa, while the MDC-T lost a significant number of valid votes compared to the July 31 results.
“In Kariba in 2008, one of 10 wards recorded a tie in the number of votes garnered by the major contenders resulting in the election being concluded by the drawing of lots,” said the independent election monitoring body. Run-offs in elections are a relatively new practice in Zimbabwe’s electoral history with the first one being an attempt to square-off President Mugabe with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the June 2008 Presidential election. The 2008 attempt for the presidential vote aside, other results for lower offices at the time were determined by the tossing of a coin to determine the winner.
Last week’s run off elections were held in Ward 30, Mutasa Rural District Council (RDC) and Ward 5, Kusile RDC and Ward 4, Kadoma Municipality which is wholly urban.
The ERC said it was unhappy that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission once again failed to provide the contesting candidates with “electronic and analysable voters’ rolls” before the polls as required by the law.
“This failure compounded the inadequacies of ZEC in meeting the prescribed regulations under the Electoral Act. The failure to provide the voters’ roll on time was also a cause for concern in July… The ERC urges the Commission to adhere to electoral fairness by affording all contesting candidates or parties necessary information during all elections and abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act which compels ZEC to provide a copy of both electronic and printed copies of the voters’ roll to contesting candidates within reasonable time,” says the ERC.
“Ahead of the elections, the expectation was that ZEC would make every effort to avail all critical information about the elections to the public. Regrettably, there was no indication given of how many ballot papers were prepared for the run off ward elections, which company had printed them and where they were kept. Such information is critical in that it promotes transparency and verifiability of the election process both of which are elements noted in the electoral law.”
On allegations that voters were force-marched from different areas to vote using slips of paper as a evidence of registration, the ERC urged ZEC to investigate the allegations to avoid bringing the electoral process into disrepute.