Bulawayo votes smoothly, with high turnout
Bulawayo (New Ziana) – Voters in the southern Bulawayo metropolitan province trooped to polling stations as early as five o’clock in the morning, two hours ahead of the start of voting in Wednesday’s general elections, officials said.
Voters across the country are electing a new president, parliamentary and local government representatives in a one-day poll seen as the most peaceful, at least the campaign phase of it.
The province encompasses Bulawayo city, the country’s second biggest, where reports indicated high turnouts by voters for the election.
But in some constituencies in the province, voters were disappointed as voting was delayed for lengthy periods due to unavailability of ballot papers.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the body in charge of running elections in the country, attributed the problem to court challenges some political parties and candidates made in the run-up to the polls, which delayed printing and distribution of ballot papers in some areas.
Bulawayo and Harare were most affected by the glitch, but ZEC said it would extend voting periods in all affected areas to compensate for the lost time.
ZEC constituency elections officer for Lobengula Magwegwe area, Mbizo Mtetwa told New Ziana at Masotha B Polling station around mid-morning that some voting material was yet to be delivered.
“Everything is going well, and according to plan. Its only that we can`t start the elections without the other ballots. We were told they are coming. Once they arrive, we will start the process,” he said.
“There is no incident of violence or disturbance. Everything is going well. The environment is peaceful,” he added.
There was a high turnout at Magwegwe North bus terminus polling station, although no voting was taking place due to the unavailability of some ballot papers.
There are three different papers at each polling station, one for president, another for parliamentary candidates, and a third for local government representatives.
At most of the polling stations which had ballot papers missing, it was mostly those for local government representatives.
At Mazwi Primary School in Magwegwe North, presiding officer Vincient Banda said voting started at 9 o’clock, two hours late, due to logistical glitches.
As at most polling stations in the area, there was a long winding queue of voters, the young and very old included at Mazwi Primary School.
“We have started the process now. We delayed a bit due to logistical challenges, but it’s now sorted,” Banda said after starting the voting process.
No incidents of violence, despite the voting delays and frustrations, had been registered in the province by early afternoon.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking a second presidential term in the election and is being challenged by nine other contenders.
Pre-election surveys have placed him firm favourite to win against the backdrop of a divided opposition, and a resurgent economy.
More than six million voters are registered to vote, a large portion being young, first voters.
Voting is scheduled to close at 7 o’clock in the evening on Wednesday, after which counting of the votes will start immediately.