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Despite Chaotic Early Voting, Zimbabwe Officials Promise Smooth Poll

Zimbabwean police officers wait in line to cast their votes at a polling station in Harare, July 15, 2013. Early voting started for police and security personnel who will be on duty during the nation's July 31elections.
Despite chaotic early voting last week, Zimbabwe's Election Commission is reassuring the public that next week's general election will run smoothly.

Voting material and staff for the July 31 voting are already being moved into place, according to Joyce Kazembe, deputy chairwoman of the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

“We are raring to go," she said. "We have been on this for a number of months now. The ballot paper, which was one of our challenges during the special vote, was provided, the commission has procured the inedible ink, which is sufficient for the conduct of the harmonized election.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party will lock horns in a contest to end the country's power-sharing government, which was formed following a disputed election in 2009.

Last week, Zimbabwe's special early voting by security agents became chaotic as it stretched into a third day, one more than originally planned and one more than permitted by Zimbabwe's new constitution. That prompted the MDC to say it has lost faith in the election commission.

The MDC said the number of security forces voting early was inflated by the Zimbabwe Elections Commission to rig the count for Mugabe’s Zanu PF. The High Court of Zimbabwe dismissed an MDC attempt to nullify the early vote.

The commission said Tuesday that lessons it learned from the early voting prompted it to deliver election material before the polling date.

Meanwhile, a large shortfall for election funding is still an issue. Earlier this month, Finance Minister Tendai Biti appealed to regional countries to fund Zimbabwe's election.

“The Zimbabwe electoral commission, [is] so far out of the budget we wanted. We have received $85 million of the $130 million-something we want," Zimbabwe Election Commission member Bessie Nhandara said. "But nothing has stopped us from moving. We are just getting what we want. We just pass bills where necessary, to the treasury.”