ZANU PF was Sunday forced to roll over its primary elections to the next day amid massive bungling which saw the late or wrong delivery of ballots papers to most centres while some had names of contestants missing.
The elections were called to choose party candidates for senatorial, women’s quota, parliamentary and council elections due not later than August this year.
But the countrywide polls were marred by embarrassing administrative flaws that saw party officials forced to reverse wrong deliveries to some provinces.
In some cases, they were forced to print new ballot papers after it was found impractical to recall those that were sent to far away areas.
Some party followers who thronged the different centres to cast their votes throughout the country also failed to find their names on the ballot papers.
At most centres, voters who came even earlier for the scheduled 7am commencement of balloting had failed to cast their ballots by mid-day and were milling around the centres with clear signs of a sham election in the making.
In areas such as Mashonaland West, fed up party followers started dispersing by lunch time as it seemed uncertain there were ever going to vote on the same day.
Circumstances beyond our control
Party political commissar Engelbert Rugeje looked jaded as he tried to explain the embarrassing gaffe to ZBC on Sunday.
“Because of circumstances beyond our control especially on the printing of the ballot side, we could not manage to get the ballot papers printed in time for us to meet the schedules of the roadmap,” said Rugeje, who also blamed the chaos on transport challenges.
He added, “In some districts, as we speak, elections have been conducted.
“It is only those that are in far lying areas, remote areas that are not going to conduct the primary elections today (Sunday) and therefore we have been very flexible and have allowed that the process continues tomorrow until everybody has been given the opportunity to cast their vote right across the country.”
At the Kadoma Zanu PF district offices for example, by 4 pm the Zanu PF elections directorate was only starting to distribute ballot papers to be taken to difference centres and by 5pm the process had not started.
Some party supporters in remote areas were forced to brave the cold and hunger by sleep at the centres fearing for their safety if they returned to their homes at night.
Even more embarrassing was that some of the aspiring party representatives were missing on some ballot papers delivered.
Appeal to supporters
Rugeje had the temerity to tell the Zanu PF faithful that candidates missing would be added on the ballot papers manually.
“Some could have been left out because of the challenges that the printing press had but if they were approved to stand as our candidates, definitely there is sufficient space on every ballot paper where we can have these supplementary candidates being sorted for as long as they appear on the approved list,” he said.
The Zanu PF political commissar urged disappointed followers to return the next day to cast their ballots.
“We are encouraging our supporters, those who have been verified and eligible to vote to come back tomorrow (Monday).
Zanu PF’s failure to run a flawless internal poll with all the State resources at its disposal has spotlighted on the current Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration’s capacity to deliver a smooth poll at national level this year.
The opposition is adamant the Zanu PF government should come clean on how it was planning to roll out the crucial election to avoid irreversible surprises on the day of voting.