Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba has dismissed allegations that the design of the presidential ballot paper favours President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Zec decided not to use the traditional single column for all candidates, which would have resulted in Mnangagwa’s name appearing somewhere in the middle and opted to use two columns. The first column has 14 candidates while Mnangagwa’ name appears at the top of the second column which has only 9 candidates. Chigumba insisted that Zec had followed the letter of the law and reminded people that the design of the ballot paper is the exclusive right of Zec. Speaking to The Standard, Chigumba said,
The allegations are regrettable and the commission, as already explained to stakeholders including observers, it did consider all options in coming up with the design of the ballot paper. The proposed one column design by a concerned stakeholder would have resulted in a long ballot paper of A3 plus in size and required double the amount of paper. It would also have been difficult for the folded ballot paper to fit in the aperture of the ballot box because of its small size.
Further, that would have meant more ballot boxes would fill up quickly leading to more being required for procurement. The cost-benefit analysis revealed that the option would have required not only an increase in ballot paper but also an increase in the production time plus number of ballot boxes to be procured.
The two-column design is the design that has been adopted by the commission for all ballot papers with candidates in excess of 14 people regardless of the type of election, using its discretion after weighing the available options. The candidates’ names will still retain the alphabetical order of surnames as provided for in section 3 (11) (b) (i) of the Electoral Regulations SI21 of 2005.
However, stakeholders are reminded that issues to do with the design and printing of ballot paper remain the exclusive right of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in terms of Section 239 (g) of the constitution of Zimbabwe.
More: The Standard