01 Aug 2013 03:20
By Charles Tjatindi
HARARE, 01 AUG (NAMPA) Fears are rife that a large number of Zimbabweans might have cast their votes without having registered as voters as per stipulated legal requirements, casting a shadow of doubt over the credibility of the elections.
Reports came to the fore that 20 would-be voters were arrested after they were found in possession of fake registration slips at various polling stations, where they had intended to cast their votes on Wednesday.
Zimbabweans are going to the polls to elect a new president, members of the National Assembly and Local Authority Councillors this week.
It is not clear at this stage if more arrests are pending in the matter as investigations continue.
The names of the culprits are yet to be released.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which has confirmed the incident, has also launched its own investigations to determine how the registration slips were attained, and whether more people could have attempted to do so.
Addressing the media on Wednesday evening, ZEC deputy chairperson Retna Kazembe said the matter is receiving the commissions urgent attention as it attempts to clear any doubt over the credibility of the elections.
We do not fear that 20 people could influence the outcome of the whole elections, but we are nonetheless not taking it lightly, and will do anything possible to get to the bottom of this. We hope that this is an isolated incident and one that will be dealt with as such, she noted.
The late release of the voters roll, which was only made available a day before Wednesdays elections, continue to cause problems for the commission.
Reports from various polling stations in Harare are that people were being turned away from polling stations for either attempting to vote at a ward which they are not registered in, or because their names do not appear on the voters roll.
ZEC had earlier admitted that preparations for the elections had been an insurmountable task, given the number of registered voters.
The commission, through its chairperson Rita Makarawu, had, however, assured Zimbabweans that the voting process has been free and fair so far.