THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission yesterday started opening, verifying and tallying ballot papers cast nationwide during the special vote held between July 14 and 15.
The process was done in the presence of political parties, regional and international observers.ZEC chief elections officer Mr Lovemore Sekeramayi and his deputy Mr Utoile Silaigwana superintended over the process while some commissioners also attended.
Zanu-PF and MDC-T hailed the process saying it was transparent to the extent that no manipulation of results could be done.
Zanu-PF secretary for security and State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi who attended the initial opening said the process proved to the whole world that the commission was transparent in running its affairs.
"They are opening ballots in the presence of various political parties, among them Zanu-PF and the MDC formations," he said.
"Those who suspect that there are tricks being played, people are manipulating and wanting to rig were obviously quite anxious. But as the process is going on, it is clear that everything is above board and people will do the counting. At the end of the day, it will be demonstrated that there was no chicanery.
"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is a Government organ and as Government if there are any problems with it, we have to help them solve the problem instead of rubbishing and condemning the whole process."
MDC-T member of the national multi-party liaison committee set up by ZEC, Mr Obert Gutu, also attended the official opening of the ballots and hailed the process for being transparent.
His was is a major shift from MDC-T's policy of castigating the electoral commission and accusing it of conniving to rig the elections.
"The process has gone well. There has not been any serious logistical challenge. I think it's almost foolproof.
"It's virtually difficult and impossible to rig with this kind of procedure because all party election agents have access to inspect the ballot boxes to see if they are sealed. If they are not there, then they can raise an objection and have them rejected.
"I have not seen anything really that will make anyone want to think that there is anything suspect.
"I would like to believe that to the extent that the sealing process was done well and that the process is being done slowly, but thoroughly. So I would say so far, so good," said Mr Gutu who is also Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs.
The opening of ballots was done per province in alphabetical order.
In Bulawayo, 1 303 cast their votes while 1 071 were not used as a result of among other things arriving at the polling stations after polling had closed or those who had applied for special voting having failed to turn up.
It took about two hours to verify and tally the ballot papers for Bulawayo province.
At the time of going to print, counting of ballots for Harare had started with revelations that almost 3 600 ballot papers at Mt Pleasant polling stations were not used.
Actual vote counting would be done simultaneously with the July 31 ballots.
There were indications that the verification would be done throughout the night.
After verification and tallying of all ballots, they would then be sorted according to wards and then sent to particular wards ahead of the July 31 poll.
The ballots would be verified and tallied to reconcile them with the initial numbers sent out to various polling stations.