By Daniel Chigundu
National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) says it has discovered that a polling station will be located at a homestead belonging to a Zanu PF official in Mashonaland East Province.
NERA is currently verifying all the polling stations listed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) mapping exercise which listed specific polling stations for each province in the country and are expected to be used in the 2018 general elections.
In a statement, NERA said it was going to meet with ZEC officials in the province to get a briefing and clarifications with regards to the location of the polling station.
“The NERA team will have a meeting with the ZEC Provincial Officer for some briefings and recommendations especially the issue of a polling station discovered at Zanu PF youth leader’s home. The NERA team realised that there was a lot of resistance from the Zanu PF.
“The team has also set some teams of people from different opposition political parties to work with locally for some tip-offs and also for security reasons,” read the NERA mapping report.
ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau last week told the media at an engagement meeting that polling stations used in the 2013 elections are not going to be changed for the 2018 elections and that only issues to do with accessibility can cause the shifting of a polling station.
Makarau said her commission is looking at having a maximum of 1500 people voting per polling station under the new system of polling-station-based voting.
According to NERA, they are verifying the listed polling stations because ZEC and Zanu PF have had ballots counted from bogus polling stations in previous elections and are trying to prevent that from happening in 2018.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Tendai Biti unearthed a bogus polling station in Harare East during the 2013 general elections.
Many other bogus polling stations have been reported in rural areas and in most cases the opposition parties have been denied access to them by Zanu PF youths and war veterans.
However, despite the issue of the polling station in question, NERA said the situation has improved in Mashonaland East as the team managed to visit all the polling stations in Ward 18 and 15 without any resistance from the local militia.
The team also took some time to visit Chief Mangwende for just a formality; however the Chief advised that they should have informed him first before going into the area.
Chief Mangwende is however said to have informed the NERA team that his hands are tied by Zanu PF even though chiefs are supposed to be apolitical, adding that they have all been turned into party activists.
According to NERA, the chief also advised them to report any kind of disturbances by Zanu PF youths to the police for record purposes.
NERA is a grouping of various opposition parties in the country that are demanding electoral reforms before the country goes for the all important 2018 general elections.
Some of the reforms include ridding the commission of alleged military personnel, allowing diaspora vote and a new voter’s roll among other changes.
Tendai Biti last week said there was likely to be no reforms unless opposition parties intensify their demands.