By Daniel Chigundu
European Union election observation mission says they are not happy with the level of transparency over the printing and storage of ballot papers for the 2018 general elections.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is reportedly in the process of printing the ballot papers to be used in the election and had also invited the participating political parties to come and observe the process as was demanded by the opposition parties.
However, opposition parties dismissed the gesture claiming they were made to observe from about 20 metres away and were not even given the specimen of the ballot papers or even that of the paper that is being used.
Addressing the media at a press conference, the European Union Election Observation Mission deputy chief observer Mark Stevens said they are in favour of transparency of the printing process as it enhances transparency.
“Issues such as observation of the printing of the ballot papers, observation and storage of ballot papers comes out in quite a lot of elections, some countries provide for it, some countries don’t.
“But what we discovered in different cases is that when such access is provided it enhances confidence and it can enhance transparency and credibility which is why we are fully in favour of it.
“We went along to observe the printing of the ballot papers so we are aware of the opposition’s concern to that event because it wasn’t quite as we expected either so we encourage as much inclusivity and transparency as possible particularly around sensitive issues of printing of ballot papers,” he said.
Nelson Chamisa’s election agent Jameson Timba last week told the media that the printing of ballot papers must be stopped as parties were not given an opportunity to actually observe the process.
Timba said in a proper observation, political parties should have been given the sample of the paper that is being used, the specimen of the ballot paper being printed, and the rundown of the serial numbers and also be allowed to observe the actual printing process.
The election agent added that in so far as they are concerned there was no observation because the parties had no reference to the processes.
Speaking at the Making Election Make Sense debate series organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) United Democratic Movement Presidential candidate Violet Mariyacha concurred with Timba adding that they are likely not to contest if the issues are not solved.
MDC Alliance and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) have already organised a demonstration against ZEC demanding to demand transparency on ballot paper printing.