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Zim border delays frustrate potential voters

31 July 2013, 08:29Ishmael Makausi

Beitbridge - In what is widely perceived as another strategy to deny Zimbabweans in the Diaspora the right to vote in Wednesday's election, human rights groups said authorities had delayed the entry of buses ferrying thousands of prospective voters through the Beitbridge border post.

Stranded passengers, some who said had been at the entry point for more than 10 hours, expressed concern over the "unnecessary stoppages" arguing that the move was intended to make them late and limit their chances of voting.

Voting is open between 7am and 7pm.

Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), Gabriel Shumba, said the authorities at the Zimbabwe border were resorting to underhand tactics.

"This is awful and an indication that the powers that be fear the contribution of the Diaspora vote.

"It is also an indication that President Mugabe and ZANU (PF) hold in contempt the provisions of the new Constitution of country which permits every citizen to vote.

"In similar fashion, they have also been contemptuous of the African Commission ruling which called upon the authorities to make provision for the Diaspora from outside the country," Shumba said.

He said such actions further undermined the legitimacy and credibility of the ongoing elections.

Contacted for comment, immigration officials said they were making routine checks to verify information of people entering the country.

"I'm not the right person to comment about this, but there is no issue at all here. These baseless claims are cooked by some NGOs in order to discredit the election outcome.

"Surely, if people wanted to vote as they claim, they could have traveled earlier," said an official.

There is a heavy presence of police, soldiers and members of the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) at the border.

Zimbabweans are casting the votes five years after discredited Presidential polls failed to produce a winner.

Millions fled to neighbouring South Africa following the violence that characterised the election.

Mugabe, at the helm for 33 years, faces a stiff challenge from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirayi.

- CAJ News


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