With a presidential run-off election coming up on June 27, The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission this week gazetted new regulations allowing ward election officers as well as presiding officers at polling places to endorse results in the presence of candidates or their agents, the latter signing the same forms as witnesses.
In the last election, presiding officers signed the forms alone. The state-controlled Herald newspaper on Thursday quoted ZEC Deputy Chief Election Officer Utloile Silaigwana as saying the change was meant to speed the release of results.
Elections officer Dennis Murira of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he welcomes the rule change, but is wary because presiding officers are likely to be Central Intelligence Organization agents now that teachers have been excluded from the process.
Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a respected non-governmental election monitoring group, urged the government not to oblige local observers to re-apply for accreditation for the run-off election even if they were accredited to observe the March 29 elections. It said doing so will be time-consuming and expensive.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Executive Director Rindai Chifunde-Vava said the government should recognize credentials issued for the March 29 first round of the presidential election, as the runoff merely continues that process.