The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has rejected a request by the opposition to print ballot papers for the March 26 by-elections that reflect the colours of party and candidates’ choice.
On Monday (March 21) the commission invited all political parties to view the ballot papers that will be used during the by-elections.
There was an immediate outcry from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party over the black and white ballot papers.
The recently formed CCC, which is led by Nelson Chamisa in an interim capacity, has branded itself on yellow, a colour that has caused an overnight sensation among party supporters.
Supporters of MDC-T also took to social media to protest the black-and-white ballot paper.
In a statement, Jasper Mangwana, the new ZEC spokesperson, said the electoral body was not obliged to print ballot paper in party or candidates’ preferred colours.
“The applicable provisions that relate to printing of the ballot paper are in section 52A of the Electoral Act and Section 5 of the Electoral Regulations, Statutory Instrument 21 of 2005. The sections do not at all bind the commission to print any ballot papers in the manner the party (CCC) is alleging,” he said.
Mangwana blamed CCC of misleading its supporters.
“It is unfortunate that the party went on to educate its supporters without consulting with the commission on the contents and form of ballot papers,” he said.
Chamisa has in the past accused ZEC of being manipulated by the rival Zanu PF to favour the latter.
Opposition parties are worried that printing the ballots on black-and-white is likely to confuse voters who would be looking for their colours.
Aspiring candidates are vying for 28 national assembly and 122 local authority by-election seats, which fell vacant through death, recalls and reassignment.
The commission has created 1 990 polling stations for by-elections that are unevenly spread in all the countries’ 10 provinces.
The majority of polling stations—totalling 719—are in Harare to fill 12 national assembly and 31 municipal vacancies.