Sep 27, 2005

Zanzibar: Government Yet to Buy Ballot Papers

The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) said yesterday that preparations for the October 30 elections were on course
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) said yesterday that preparations for the October 30 elections were on course.
ZEC Information Officer Idrissa Jecha told The Guardian yesterday that the commission had received ballot boxes and other materials, including ballot papers, would follow soon.

However, impeccable sources within ZEC told The Guardian that the government had not released money for ballot papers, adding that this could affect the timetable for having all the election materials delivered to polling centres on time.

’’We are running out of time. We are supposed to pay for the ballot papers before the end of this month so that suppliers could print and send them to us on time,’’ the source, who preferred anonymity, said.

?He said that since the Zanzibar government had committed itself to funding the elections, the delay in releasing the funds was unwarranted.

On verification of the voters’ register, the sources said that more than 4,000 ’’bogus’’ voters had been discovered by the end of last week.

?’’The verification exercise conducted by the ZEC and NEC (National Electoral Commission) IT experts has been going on well. We now want to upgrade our computers to be used in the verification of voters’ pictures. Currently we are using names and finger prints,’’ the sources said.

?According to election laws, the cheats will be liable to at least six months imprisonment or a 100,000/- fine, or both.

Meanwhile, some political parties in Zanzibar have commended evaluation of election coverage by the Tanzania Election Monitoring Project (TEMP) and said the Zanzibar state media must be reformed to report fairly.

?And as if to confirm TEMP’s findings, CUF yesterday complained that it was denied live coverage by state-owned radio STZ on Saturday when it held a campaign rally in Chake Chake, Pemba.

’’We wrote a letter to the director of STZ asking for two hours’ coverage of our rally on Saturday in Pemba, but unfortunately our request was turned down and the reasons given were not convincing.

The director replied saying that STZ had a tight schedule and could not accommodate the CUF rally,’’CUF Deputy Director of Information and Policy Salum Bimani said.

He said that the Zanzibar state media was biased, favouring mainly the ruling CCM while little or no airtime to the opposition.

?He also complained that the recording fee of 50,000/- (TVZ) and 25,000/- (STZ) for the weekly half-hour political parties programmes was too high for most opposition parties.