The Zimbabwe Election Situation Room (ESR) is concerned with recent events relating to postal vote ballot process with particular reference to the events of 12 July 2018 that occurred at Ross Camp in Bulawayo. Members of the ESR accredited to observe the 30 July 2018 reported that the postal ballot was being conducted with members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police amid allegations of supervision by senior police officers during the process.
Section 72 of The Electoral Act, as amended on the 28th May, 2018 states that:
“When an election is to be held in a constituency, a person who is registered as a voter on the roll for that constituency shall be entitled to vote by post in terms of this part if, on all polling days in the election, he or she will be-
a. On duty as a member of the disciplined force or as an Electoral Officer; or
b. On duty in the service in the service of the government outside Zimbabwe; or
c. outside Zimbabwe as a spouse of a person referred to in paragraph (b);”
and so unable to vote at a polling station in that constituency
The Zimbabwe Election Situation Room (ESR) supports that persons fitting in the categories who are stated in section 72 of the Electoral Act service have the right to vote in secret using the postal vote. The allegations of violations of the secrecy of the postal vote contravenes section 75 of the Electoral Act.
Furthermore, Section 75 on Voting by post states that:
(1) A person to whom a postal ballot has been sent shall—
a. Signify the candidate for whom he or she wishes to vote by secretly placing on the ballot paper a cross in accordance with section 57(c)(ii); and
b. Then place the marked ballot paper in the unmarked envelope referred to in section
Section 75 of The Electoral Act does not clearly define the ambits of the secrecy of the vote is maintained. This then leaves the interpretation of the clause to possible wide variations and different levels of implementation. The right to vote in secret for every Zimbabwe is also guaranteed in section 67(3)(a) of the Constitution.
In addition, as ESR we are concerned by the lack of transparency by ZEC through failure to publicise the process to notify contesting parties, observers and the public regarding the postal vote processes. This creates suspicion of malpractice and puts into doubt the integrity of the whole electoral process. This was further buttressed by the inconsistent statement from the police and ZEC on the process and the removal of statements from the state press by the Acting Chief Election Officer.
ESR key demands:
- Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) puts in place mechanisms that promote secrecy of the postal ballot as this contributes to the free, fair and credible harmonized elections.
- ZEC to ensure that all processes are transparent and open to scrutiny by citizens, local and foreign observers’ missions in Zimbabwe.
- ZEC needs to have clear procedures that are publicised that govern the conduct of the postal vote to ensure transparency, accountability and uniformity of process.
Source: Election Situation Room (ESR)