8 August 2013

Zimbabwe: 300,000 Voters Turned Away, ZEC Admits

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is mounting a legal challenge after the election commission announced his rival had won the presidential ... ( Resource: Analysis of Zimbabwe Election Results )

SOME 300,000 voters were turned away and 206,000 received assistance from election officials during last week's disputed vote, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said Thursday.

The commission said nearly 3.5 million people cast their ballots in last weeks elections which extended President Robert Mugabe's 33-year rule after he won 61% of the presidential vote against rival Morgan Tsvangia's 34% .

ZEC's statistics show that nearly 305,000 people were turned away from voting with the largest number - about 64,000 - turned away in the Harare alone.

The voters were reportedly turned away because their names were missing from the voters' roll, they were registered in another ward or they did not have adequate identification

Urban areas have long been a stronghold of Mugabe's rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who claimed the vote was rigged.

The outgoing premier's MDC-T party which has vowed to mount a legal challenge against the elections latched on to ZEC's admission saying it backs its claim that the vote was a "monumental farce".

"Although ZEC has released these figures, the correct numbers are higher than this considering that two million people particularly in the urban areas failed to register in the chaotic voter registration exercise," the party said in a statement.

"From the figures released by ZEC it is clear that people's will was disregarded especially in the rural areas where villagers were coerced to vote for Zanu PF by the State agents, Zanu PF militias and traditional leaders in clear violation of the Electoral Act.

"The MDC demands a forensic audit of the electoral processes in particular the voters' roll, the ballot papers, where they were printed, the special vote; voter displacement and voter registration certificates.

"The MDC is determined to pursue all peaceful, legal, political, constitutional and diplomatic remedies to resolve the current crisis and once all the remedies have been exhausted, the people of Zimbabwe should be allowed a fresh opportunity to freely and fairly elect a government of their choice.

"It is in view of such blatant shortcomings by ZEC, that the MDC demand a credible, free, fair and legitimate election must be held as soon as possible."

Independent poll monitors have also reported widespread manipulation of the roll and said the real number of disenfranchised voters could be much higher.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said over 750,000 urban voters were missing from the electoral list, in what they described as "a systematic effort to disenfranchise an estimated million voters".

"A total of 99.97% of rural voters were registered while only 67.94% of urban voters were registered," said Solomon Zwana, chairperson of ZESN.

Rights groups say police forced some people they believed to be opposition supporters to feign illiteracy and seek the assistance of police officers or polling officials, with their votes going to Mugabe.

Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa.

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