‘Extra’ ballots raise stink

TENSION gripped Donnington Police Station in Bulawayo yesterday during a verification of election material in Bulawayo, as political parties claimed to have unearthed what they called gross anomalies.

NQOBILE BHEBHE

Election agents held a tense meeting in the morning, where it was revealed that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had sent extra ballot papers, inexplicably.

For example, in Makokoba there are 28 840 registered voters, but ZEC sent an initial 35 600 ballot papers, before sending an additional 3 500, which the MDC-T claims do not have serial numbers.

Makokoba Parliamentary candidate, Gorden Moyo’s chief election agent, Sidumo Bhebhe said the MDC-T was worried by the high number of extra ballots.

“On Sunday, all parties verified the election material together with ZEC officials,” he said.

“During the process, Makokoba, which has 28 840 people on the voters’ roll, had 35 600 ballot papers allocated.”

Bhebhe said they had been informed that extra ballot papers were going to arrive and this had heightened fears that there could be rigging.

Of the city’s 12 constituencies, only Emakhandeni suburb did not receive extra ballots.

The parties reportedly agreed that the extra ballots be burnt in an effort to avoid rigging.

“However, (ZEC provincial official Innocent) Ncube liaised with Harare and later told us that they would be kept here (Donnington Police Station) until the election results were announced and parties are to second agents to guard the material,” Bhebhe explained.

A hand full of local and foreign observers could be seen milling around the station yard, as tensions simmered.

Efforts to get a comment from the electoral body last night were fruitless.

However, addressing a Press briefing in Harare, ZEC chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau said the commission will account for each and every ballot paper.

She said: “Duplicate serial number ballots will be put aside, quarantined.”.

Last week, ZEC defended its decision to print eight million ballot papers for tomorrow’s crunch elections despite there being only 6,4 million registered voters.

The commission said it had allowed a 35% margin of error to ensure that ballots do not run short.

Meanwhile, ZEC has announced 9 735 polling stations countrywide, with Bulawayo having the least centres — 392.

According to the schedule, Matabeleland North will have 784, Matabeleland South (623) Midlands (1 348), Masvingo (1 238), Mashonaland East (1 047), Mashonaland Central (822), Mashonaland West (1 303) and 875 in Harare.

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