Media urged to assist ZEC to assure voters
Harare (New Ziana) – The media should assist the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to reassure the electorate on the security and credibility of the voting process to dispel fears of rigging, an official has said.
Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) commissioner Alec Ncube said this while addressing participants at a workshop on peace journalism and election reporting.
This was after ZEC had taken the participants, who comprised journalists from the different media houses in the country, through the voting process, starting from the stage when a voter arrives at a polling station up to the time they leave, as well as the counting and posting of results.
For the purpose, ZEC mounted a demonstration polling station and conducted a mock voting process which involved all the relevant actors like the police, party election agents, local and international observers, and polling officials.
Some participants acted as the “voters” while others were the party “agents”, with the scenes conducted in a typical polling day activity.
ZEC officials took time to answer all questions as they sought to debunk the myths and allegations of rigging.
After exhausting all their questions and raising all the doubts that they had, participants were left convinced and agreed that the voting process that ZEC follows was watertight and there were no chances of rigging.
One participant went as far as declaring that rigging could only be done through magic such as the famous Shona hapura katapura, who is known for performing tricks of illusion and sleight of hand.
Ncube urged the media to encourage the electorate to leave the polling stations after casting their ballots and wait for the results in the comfort of their homes as their votes were safe and secure.
“People should go home after casting their votes to avoid unnecessary scenes that will tend to discredit the polls,” he said.
The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party has been urging its supporters not to leave polling stations in order to “protect their votes” as they accuse ZEC of planning to rig the elections in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.
But Ncube dismissed such fears, noting that counting of ballots started soon after polling ends and takes one or two hours, and it is done in the presence of representatives of the different political parties and observers.
After the votes are counted, polling officials and party agents sign a form certifying that everything was in order and the results are posted outside the polling station for everyone to see.
“After voting closes, counting starts, so what will people be guarding instead of going home?” asked Ncube.
“In between there is no likelihood of trucks bringing in ballot papers to stuff in boxes,” he said.
Voting is done in one day unlike in the past when it was in more than one day, with counting going on into the night and sometimes over days, leading opposition political parties to doubt the credibility of the whole process.