Zanzibar poll rerun ballot papers arrive unchanged

12Mar 2016
David Kisanga
The Guardian
Zanzibar poll rerun ballot papers arrive unchanged

SECURITY was tight at Amani Abeid Karume International Airport in Zanzibar yesterday as ballot papers for March 20 controversial election were delivered from South Africa.

The prototype indicated names and portraits of all candidates from political parties contended in the nullified October 25 election results, in defiance of the opposition that has boycotted the election re-run and rebelled against placing their names and pictures in the rerun ballot papers.

Despite efforts by the main opposition in the Isles, the Civic United Front (CUF) to disassociate from the rerun, asking Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to remove names of its candidates from the list of contenders, the commission decided to stick to its guns by declining the plea.

Representatives from two political parties, namely CCM and TADEA who witnessed the arrival of the ballot papers expressed approval for the new development that assures them of the election rerun.

The plane carrying the ballot papers touched the Amani Abeid Karume airport around 2:00pm amid tight security, with armed police officers cordoning the area.

Under police escort, ZEC chairman Jecha Salim Jecha, accompanied by electoral commissioners inspected the ballot papers without a word to reporters despite pleas for an interview.

But ZEC’s Election Director Salum Kassim Ali said preparations for timely delivery of the ballot papers to 1,583 polling stations were in place and that the distribution was scheduled for March 17 in Pemba and March 18 in Unguja.

“All the preparations are in place and the distribution of the ballot papers will start as soon as possible,” he insisted, saying no changes were made on the ballot papers as they appear in the same way as in the nullified October election.

Commenting on the involved costs, ZEC’s Acountant Yusufu Ali Hassan said all the expenses for printing the ballot papers were met by the government.

He said the cost of printing the ballot 503,850 papers this time decreased from last year’s Sh5.3bn to Sh4.5bn (about $246,000).

“We never approached any donor country to finance the rerun as the government covered all the required costs,” he asserted.