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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will deploy more than 106 000 polling officers countrywide today as preparations for Wednesday’s harmonised elections gather momentum.The polling officers, drawn mainly from the civil service, will man the 9 760 polling stations established countrywide for the polls to choose a President, National Assembly members and local authority representatives.
Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said in an interview yesterday that all polling officers would be at their respective polling centres today.
“Deployment has started and by tomorrow (today) every polling station will have its polling and presiding officers,” she said.
“We are looking at 11 polling officers per each of the 9 670 polling station we have set up for the polls countrywide.”
The number of polling stations, which was 8 998 in 2008, has risen in response to the increased number of people who have registered to vote.
At least 6,4 million people are expected to cast their ballots in the elections. The polling officers, according to Zec, will receive part of their allowances upon deployment with the remainder being paid soon after the elections.
Justice Makarau said all provinces should have received ballot papers by today. Seven provinces had received their ballot papers, which started being distributed on Friday, while Harare, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East were expected to get them yesterday.
She said all election material and necessary logistics would be complete today.
“I can confirm that we are now 99 percent through with our preparations and we are only tying the loose ends,” she said.
“In terms of planning, everything is well advanced and we are now looking if there is any area that is short of something but so far so good.”
She said political parties and their candidates were expected to deploy election agents.
“We expect each polling station to have an election agent representing the candidate who will be contesting,” she said. According to the amended Electoral Act, the number of polling agents will be limited with every Presidential candidate being allowed three election agents.
One will be inside the polling station while the other two will be outside for relief purposes.
In respect of political parties fielding both a council and National Assembly candidate, they will be allowed three election agents, one inside and two others outside.
There will also be roving election agents who would supplement the functions of chief election agents and they can hop from one polling station to another in order to confer with the party’s election agent at a polling station to acquaint with any problems that may be reported to him or her.
The other key stakeholders have also confirmed their readiness with the Zimbabwe Republic Police deploying law enforcement agents to the polling stations over the weekend to maintain peace and order.
Zec also confirmed that it has secured enough vehicles and fuel to cover all the country’s 1 958 wards.
Over 18 000 observers, Justice Makarau said, have been accredited to observe the elections and most of them had collected their documentation that allows them to carry out their duties.
According to the law, political parties are expected to wind up their campaigns today as no one would be allowed to do so from midnight today. Results for council elections are likely to be announced on polling day by the commander of the polling ward as some councils have few wards.
Poll outcome for smaller National Assembly constituencies can be expected a day after the election.
Presidential election results are expected within five days as prescribed by the law and no one other than the Zec chief elections officer should announce the results.
It is an offence for any unauthorised person to announce election results.
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has vowed to willfully break the law by unofficially announcing results for the harmonised elections before Zec does so.
Addressing his supporters at a rally held in Domboshava last Friday, Mr Tsvangirai said despite the provisions of the law that clearly stipulate that elections results would be announced by Zec, his party would collate results posted at all polling stations and declare the results nationally.