The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has told churches that it has no capacity to ensure a free and fair poll saying such a task lies with the political players.

Speaking at a two day workshop with Faith Based Organisations held in Harare yesterday to inform them on electoral matters “through standardised training”, ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe, said given the polarisation in the country, her organisation faced the challenge of making sure that political parties behave in the run up to, during and after the election expected sometime this year.

Kazembe was responding to a question by Bishop Francis Mafuta of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe who wanted to know what ZEC was doing to ensure that the political playfield was level before the watershed election expected sometime this year.

“We are polarised and divided as a country to the extent that it is clear some are MDC and others are Zanu PF. The media is divided along the same lines as well and that is a challenge.

“The playing field in those circumstances belong to political [parties therefore and all we can do as ZEC is to engage the political players and encourage them to behave well. We have no right to refuse to carry out an election on the basis of political bickering say for example, over the non-implementation of agreed issues in the Global Political Agreement. That is for politicians,” said Kazembe.

She said it was not true that people in rural areas are not knowledgeable about the country’s electoral process saying they knew more than their urban counterparts.

“Whether the rural folk are intimidated or not, they go out to vote and they know who they want to vote for.”

ZEC Commissioner, Petty Makoni, told the ecumenical bodies that for an election to be declared violent according to the African Union Declaration on Principle Governing Democratic Elections of 2002, the level of violence must be “significant” enough cover at least 33 per-cent of the country.

Makoni blamed the media for blowing issues out of proportion during elections urging journalists to exercise restraint.

“In the previous elections in Zambia, a whole truck was burnt to ashes in Kanyama Province while in another constituency voters literally took away the ballot papers and burnt them but the election was declared free, fair and credible. Here in Zimbabwe the media has a tendency to blow it out of proportion so I urge you to be responsible,” Makoni said.