Excess Ballot Papers For Zimbabwe Elections?
Excess Ballot Papers For Zimbabwe Elections? Website
Zimbabwe's main opposition party has accused the government of printing millions of surplus ballot papers for the presidential and legislative polls. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says leaked documents show nine million papers have been ordered for the country's 5.9 million voters. But, the head of the electoral commission rejected suggestions that the extra papers might be misused. Judge George Chiwese told the BBC that the vote would be free and fair. President Robert Mugabe has accused the MDC of treasonous links with Britain. Speaking ahead of the 29 March election, he said the opposition would never take power as long as he was alive. The MDC's secretary general Tendai Biti said the claims of excess ballot papers were based on leaked documents from the government's security printers. The MDC also says 600,000 postal ballots have been ordered for a few thousand police, soldiers and civil servants. While ballots are reported to have been ordered for police and military personnel and civil servants living away from home, about four million Zimbabweans living abroad are not permitted to vote by post. Credibility gap Mr Biti said 84-year-old Mr Mugabe, who is seeking a sixth term in office, faced a no-win situation. "The credibility gap will be so huge," he said. "If he steals the election he will get a temporary reprieve but that will guarantee him a dishonourable if not bloody exit." He added that the president would probably be forced out of office in the weeks following the elections by the deepening economic crisis and the shortage of basic public services. Mr Mugabe has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980. Analysts say the election poses the biggest threat to his rule since he took office.