Elections officer collapses, dies at polling station

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi
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A ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) female presiding officer collapsed and died yesterday afternoon while carrying out designated election duties at Chipadze Primary School in Bindura, Mashonaland Central.

The presiding officer whose name was not released, collapsed while she was on duty in the mining town and it could not be ascertained, by the time of going to print if she had been complaining of any illness when she reported for duty. National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident in a telephone interview last night.

“We had an unfortunate incident at Chipadze Primary School in Bindura where a presiding officer just collapsed and died. We are still assessing if there are any other reports, we will give to the media tomorrow (today),” he said.
He said the body of the deceased presiding officer was taken to a local hospital.

“The presiding officers’ body was ferried to Bindura Hospital Mortuary. We are yet to find out if she was not feeling well. We will be guided by the medical experts. It’s an unfortunate incident,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

Turning to the voting exercise, Asst Comm Nyathi said there were isolated cases of misconduct where one person was arrested after casting his vote in Sunningdale, Harare.

“We have one person who was arrested in Sunningdale 2 in Harare. The person came to cast his vote, he went through all the voting procedures and he was given his ballot paper. After casting his ballot paper, he came out of the booth and he took a photograph of his ballot paper indicating where he had put his vote,” he said.

The man, unbeknown to him, was being watched by alert polling officers who quickly alerted police who arrested him. Zec issued a statement yesterday on the prohibition of taking pictures of marked ballots during an election.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission notes with concern that some voters are taking photographs of marked ballots and sending them on social media.

This is in contravention of the Constitution which protects the right to security of the ballot,” wrote Chief Elections Officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana. He said the provision was put in place to protect voters from victimisation.

“Voters are advised that this constitutional provision is in place to protect them from victimisation and is an internationally recognised right which the Commission endeavours to protect, voters are thus advised to desist from any actions that might compromise this right and the integrity of the electoral process,” he added.

Mr Silaigwana however, emphasised that the general public must be aware that taking photographs inside the polling station is prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence in terms of Section 30 of the Electoral Regulations S.1.2.21 of 2005.

However, Asst Comm Nyathi said when polling stations closed at 7pm the voting process in terms of security had been very peaceful.

“We want to urge the public that they must remain peaceful, they must continue to co-operate with the police so that we have the environment remaining conducive for forthcoming elections,” he said. — Herald