Updated: Voting begins in Zimbabwe


Harare (New Ziana) – Voting in Zimbabwe’s general election largely began on schedule at 7 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday in much of the country, with mixed voter turnouts.

But in a few constituencies in the capital, Harare, and the second city, Bulawayo, voting was delayed because ballot papers for the local government segment of the poll had not been delivered yet.

The election is for president, and parliamentary and local government representatives combined.

Early reports indicated heavy voter turnouts in some areas, and low in others, but election officials expected voter numbers to pick up as the day progressed.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is seeking a second presidential term, voted at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe, his home area in central Zimbabwe early in the morning.

“I have done my duty as a citizen of the country, besides who will be the president of this country,” he said after casting his ballot, exuding confidence of his electoral chances.

Surveys have indicated he will brush off the challenge from nine other presidential candidates, and easily win the elections, seen as the country’s lest acrimonious, at least the campaign phase.

His main challenger is Nelson Chamisa of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party, who came second to him in the last election in 2018.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga also voted early in the morning at Gateway School in Harare, while Chamisa was due to cast his ballot in his constituency in Kuwadzana in the capital around mid-morning.

“This one is a very good experience in that we are now voting to build the Zimbabwe we want,” Vice President Chiwenga said, after casting his ballot.

Early reports elsewhere in the country indicated voting had kicked off smoothly in most areas, with earlier hold-ups at some polling stations progressively being resolved.

In Gwanda, Masvingo, Mutare and Harare, voters trooped to some polling stations as early as five o’clock in the morning, eager to cast their ballots.

But disappointed voters at some polling stations in Harare which delayed opening were seen turning back home after failing to vote.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana told New Ziana voting delays in some polling stations in Harare and Bulawayo, were caused by last minute legal challenges that had been lodged by contestants in the run-up to the poll.

This had affected printing and delivery of ballot papers, among other things.

He said, however, that all polling stations that delayed opening would be allowed to extend the voting period to make up for the lost time.

But he said this only affected a tiny percent of the over 12 000 polling stations set-up countrywide for the one-day election.

“The delay (in polling in Harare and Bulawayo) is because of court cases which delayed printing of ballot papers.

So eight out of ten provinces are at 99 percent to 100 percent in terms of opening,” Silaigwana said.

“We urge voters to be patient, the vote is theirs, they should not get agitated. Any hour lost is going to be compensated so that we have the twelve hours of voting as allowed in the Electoral Act,” he added.

More than six million voters have registered to vote in the election, a lot of them young, first-time voters.

Several local, regional and international election observers, such as the African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community and the European Union, are witnessing the poll.

In an early assessment of polling, former Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano, who is among the election observers, said voting had started off flawlessly.

He was speaking after witnessing the start of voting at one polling station in Harare.

Voting is expected to end at 7 o’clock in the evening, after which vote counting will immediately begin, localised at the polling stations.

The results are expected within five days after voting.

New Ziana

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