Zec faces ‘bloated’ ballot paper headache

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THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) says it faces a headache of having the biggest ever presidential ballot paper, as a record 124 aspirants have indicated they want to contest in the upcoming polls.

BY TATENDA CHITAGU

In an interview on the sidelines of an elections reporting workshop for scribes organised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists in Masvingo yesterday, Zec deputy director for voter education, Taurai Gavi conceded that his organisation was in a fix over the huge number of presidential
candidates.
However, it is understood that the number of contestants could be whittled down by prohibitive nomination fees, which were yet to be gazetted.

“We have received 124 notifications, as of yesterday, of political parties that want to contest for the presidency,” he said.

“However, people must note that Zec does not register political parties, as there is no law to implement such, but rather political parties, when they are formed, indicate their interest and provide us with requisite documentation and trademarks.

“The high number of presidential contestants is an indication that the democratic space has been opened in the new dispensation and in a new Zimbabwe, it seems everyone also wants to be a president.

“However, it comes with challenges to us and the challenges that we are likely to face are to do with the ballot paper. How big is it going to be?”

This is the highest number of presidential candidates ever recorded in the history of Zimbabwe, a country of 14 million people, according to the last census.
The election date is yet to be proclaimed.

Previously, a few fringe political parties, apart from the major parties, contested in the presidential elections, which were mainly a two-horse race between the late mainstream MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and ousted long time ruler, Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF.

However, history has it that a number of the parties that express interest in contesting elections often pull out at the last minute.

In the last elections, for example, Egypt Dzinemunenzva and Kisinoti Mukwazhe had postured as presidential candidates, but pulled out at the last minute, with the former failing to raise nomination fees, while the latter threw his lot with Zanu PF.

MDC-T have often said such candidates are the creation of Zanu PF, with the intention of confusing the electorate and splitting the vote.

Gavi said nomination fees, which were yet to be gazetted, were likely to reduce the number of presidential aspirants.

“This is a sizeable number, but we hope some will be limited by the nomination fees, which are yet to be gazetted,” he said.

“As for now, I cannot tell you the nomination fees.”