The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s false pronouncements before and after the elections have exposed the electoral body which now stands accused of misleading the nation.
On August 18, for example, Zec claimed to have respectively printed 7 126 600, 7 098 750 and 6 854 250 presidential, parliamentary and local authority ballot papers.
This information was released after the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) questioned in court Zec’s transparency regarding the ballot paper printing process.
However, on election day, Zec announced that it was still printing ballot papers and blamed court cases for the delay in printing.
The head of the Southern African Development Community Observer Mission Nevers Mumba said Zec had assured them that there were enough voting materials.
However, the subsequent revelation that Zec did not have adequate ballot papers raised doubts about the credibility of the electoral process.
Mumba said: “Based on these two considerations, the subsequent information from Zec that they did not have adequate ballot papers has the unfortunate effect of creating doubts about the credibility of this electoral process.”
During a briefing with election observers on August 16, Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba also claimed that the electoral body was not influenced by the government or any other organisation.
She emphasised the independence of the commission as guaranteed by section 235 of the Constitution.
However, Zec chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana contradicted this statement in court when human rights activists challenged the failure by Zec to accredit them.
Silaigwana acknowledged the significant role of the Executive in accrediting observers.
In yet another blunder, Zec dismissed reports on August 28 that polling agents and observers were being recalled to sign new V11 forms. The commission clarified that the V11 forms were part of election residue and were sealed in ballot boxes after the counting of ballots.
However, CCC claimed that several of its party agents received text messages from Zec, requesting them to return to polling stations to re-sign the V11 forms.
CCC lawyer Thabani Mpofu then urged polling agents to ignore such requests from Zec or Zanu PF.