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Africa

Chaos mars Zimbabwe’s pre-election vote

Local election monitors in Zimbabwe have raised concerns over the early voting which was arranged for security officials. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he will challenge the process in court.

Barely two weeks before Zimbabweans vote in a crucial presidential election, early voting for members of  the security services on Sunday and Monday was plagued by delays in the opening of polling stations.

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (R) looks on as President Robert Mugabe signs Zimbabwe's new constitution into law in the capital Harare. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE - Tags: POLITICS)

Zimbabwe's new constitution was backed by the two feuding leaders

They were also reports of shortages of voting materials such as indelible ink, stamps, voter rolls and ballot papers and boxes.

Electoral Commission deputy chair Joyce Kazembe told the AP news agency there had been no voting at some of the 210 polling stations on Sunday. She said the main reason was a delay in the printing of election papers.

More than 9,000 voting stations are planned across the country for the election scheduled for July 31.

Local observers worried

Solomon Zwana, chair of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a local observer group, told Deutsche Welle correspondent Columbus Mavhunga, the conduct of the pre-election vote had caused serious concerns. "It is only prudent that ZEC ( Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) considers extending the special voting to ensure that all those issued with permission to cast special votes are given opportunity to do so."

The group said the chaos witnessed during the special voting process serves as a telling and worrying indicator of what could happen on on election day. "The process continues to be disorganized, an indication that ZEC was unprepared to conduct the special voting process," Zwana added.

In past elections, security forces have voted in barracks and police camps in the absence of election observers. The country's security chiefs have openly supported Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, and accuse Tsvangirai of being a stooge of the West.  President Robert Mugabe is seeking to extend his 33 years in power.

Legal challenge

Prime Minister's Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party on Monday said it was seeking the nullification of the security forces vote through legal means. Tsvangirai's party argues that the pre-election voting exercise could form a foundation for rigging by President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.

Finance Minister and MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti told DW the number of police voters was questionable. ”There is no way the police can have an establishment of 69 322 people. This figure is almost double the number of personnel we are paying at the ministry of finance,” Biti noted. He called on ZEC to ensure the law was being obeyed. 

Lewis Uriri, a lawyer for the Prime Minister's MDC party who spent the better of his day in the court, told DW's correspondent they were already engaged in legal discussions.

“There are certain consultations that are going on between us and the legal practitioners representing other parties. The judge will hear us on Wednesday afternoon,” Uriri said, adding that “the nature of the consultations is too sensitive for public consumption at this stage.”

Funding for election still uncertain

There is still doubt hanging over this election as the treasury is still struggling to get enough funding.

A boy stands against a bus shelter with election posters during an election rally by Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Ruwa. (AP Photo Themba Hadebe)

Civic organizations say there has been little voter education in Zimbabwe

Last week, Zimbabwe's finance minister applied to neighbors in the region for about $90 million (69 million euros) in assistance. 

On July 31, President Robert Mugabe and his long time political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai lock horns in an election which will end their power sharing government formed in 2009 following a disputed election.  Tsvangirai won the first round of that vote, but pulled out of the runoff after around 200 of his supporters were killed.

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