By A Correspondent- Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has defended the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec ) for logistical boobs on election day particularly its failure to print enough ballot papers.
Voting was extended in several polling centres especially in Bulawayo and Harare after Zec failed to distribute ballot papers in time.
Zec had told Zimbabweans before the August 23 and 24 elections that it had printed enough ballot papers.
Addressing legislators in Parliament on Wednesday last week during the question and answer session, Ziyambi acknowledged the delays in the distribution of ballot papers but shifted blame to the several court cases that he said affected planning.
He, however, said it was the function of Zec to ensure that elections are conducted efficiently by making sure that ballot papers are printed and delivered on time.
“On August 23, 2023, we witnessed or heard about the logistical challenges that the commission faced, as a result, hindering the execution of its earlier mentioned function,” Ziyambi said.
“Mr Speaker Sir, the commission faced challenges in the production and distribution of ballot papers for a few constituencies and wards emanating from the unprecedented number of court challenges that it faced.”
“More than 100 post-nomination applications were filed in the Electoral Court and the High Court of Zimbabwe.”
Ziyambi added: “Due to the large number of court challenges and the late determination of the same, the ballot papers could not be designed and printed without confirmed candidates.”
He said this affected the designing, printing and distribution of the ballot papers.
Ziyambi said the commission calculated ballot papers to be printed based on the voting population per polling station across the country.
“This information was submitted to printers who were working on the said projections but the actual printing unfortunately, had to be stalled pending the outcome of pending cases,” he said.
“The commission adopted a production and distribution strategy which prioritised the remote and more distant provinces to ease the distribution challenges against limited timeframes. For this reason, it should be noted that delays were largely experienced in Harare because the printing and distribution was done last due to the province’s proximity to the printer.”
Ziyambi said there were few reported cases of errors, resulting in ballot papers being reprinted at the last minute, further delaying their distribution.
“Further Mr Speaker, in mitigation of the said challenges, efforts were made to ensure that voters were not disenfranchised,” he said.
“The commission requested the President to consider exercising his powers under section 38 of the Electoral Act and alter his earlier proclamation so that voting could be extended to 24th August, 2023 in those areas that had been affected by the delays. As a result of these efforts, a statistical analysis of the average voter turn-out by polling station showed no significant difference between affected and none affected polling stations.”
Zec attracted brickbats over the logistical boobs on election day with the opposition charging that it was a deliberate strategy to rig the elections in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.