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In a petition to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the body mandated with running elections in the country, Zadhr board secretary Evans Masitara, said although doctors and nurses must be placed on essential services category just as is the case with security forces, that is not presently the case.
“Zimbabwe will be holding a general election in 2018 and we understand that the process of preparing for the election is already underway. We believe not much has been done to extend the essential services privileges to medical practitioners as has been extended to the army and police for the purpose of enhancing their participation in the electoral processes.
“Special facilities such as establishment of polling stations are granted to the security forces and it is our request that those be extended to health professionals at central and provincial hospitals for the 2018 elections as these facilities host a large proportion of the health workforce at a given time,” Masitara said.
The Zadhr board secretary said by placing the polling stations at hospitals and clinics it would assist in preventing interruptions to service delivery by health professionals in their quest to exercise their right to vote.
“Further the increased access to polling centres will encourage participation of the cadres in the process. A snap survey done by our association revealed that about 30 percent of eligible voters who work in the health sector participated in the last general elections,” he said.
Zadhr executive director Calvin Fambirai said in the Electoral Amendment Bill, patients and key staff manning hospitals and clinics whether inside or outside Zimbabwe, cannot vote because they cannot get postal votes.
“Constitutionally everyone who is eligible to vote should do so, however, doctors and nurses will be at work on the day and they are not provided with facilities according to the Constitution for them to vote regardless of being in the country,” he said.
In the amendment of the Bill there is no provision that will allow doctors and nurses to cast their votes.
Presently, opposition parties uniting under the banner National Electoral Reform Agenda have been piling up pressure on government to reform Zec which they allege in its current form is packed with personnel with links to the country’s security arms.