HARARE, ZIMBABWE —
Voting for Zimbabwe's elections got underway this week with special early voting by police and security agents. That voting extended to a third day Tuesday - one more than originally scheduled - in what appears to be a violation of the constitution. The prime minister’s party says it will go to court in an effort to have the votes nullified.
The development prompted Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] party to say it has lost faith in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC].
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a senior official of the MDC, said he was taking ZEC to court over the extension.
“We have lost institutional faith in ZEC, despite our strong respect for individuals in it," said Biti. "We feel that the junta has taken over this process. ZEC is no longer in charge. There were 209 special polling stations across the country trying to service about 70,000 people. In three days they failed to do that."
The prime minister’s party also argues that ZEC inflated the number of security agents in order to rig the elections for President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
The early voting is meant for security forces who will be working on the day when the population of Zimbabwe votes, July 31.
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s high court will hear an appeal from the MDC to have these early votes nullified.
Even before this controversy, the elections appeared beset by trouble. Last week, Biti warned that Zimbabwe was about $90 million short in election funding.
The elections, if they go through, are expected to end the power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai after the violent and disputed 2008 elections.