By Collins Chirinda
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) has welcomed the decision by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to review the positioning of voting booths ahead of the July 30 general election.
In a statement issued on 24 July, ZESN applauded the move and encouraged ZEC to expedite notifying election officers on the development.
“(ZESN) welcomes the decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to the review the positioning of voting booths ahead of the 30 July 2018 harmonised elections by reverting back to the set up in previous elections,
“ZESN urges the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to notify its officers of the change on the positioning and placement of the voting booths to ensure there is consistency in all polling stations on election day,” reads the statement.
ZESN chairperson, Andrew Makoni said the measures taken by Zec were crucial in supporting secrecy of the ballot and it was imperative for the commission to support democracy.
“We are pleased that ZEC have taken this crucial step which we believe is essential to safeguarding the secrecy of the vote, it is imperative now for the Commission and other institutions supporting democracy to ensure that the political environment outside polling stations is devoid of intimidation and harassment of voters before and after voting,” he said.
Initially, ZEC had proposed that positioning of the booths was meant to deter voters from taking photographs and serial numbers of their ballot papers, but was met with widespread criticism from politicians and candidates who raised concerns of electoral malpractices, saying it did not guarantee the secrecy of the vote.
In an interview with Newsday, the acting ZEC elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana refuted claims that the new transparent voting booths had been designed.
“The booths remain the same. We have not designed any transparent polling booths… The secrecy of the voter is still guaranteed,”
ZESN also went on to call for the provision of the final voters roll to all political parties contesting in the general election and observers to instill confidence and trust in the electoral process.