Voting ends in Zimbabwe election
Harare (New Ziana) – Voting in Zimbabwe’s general election on Wednesday ended at 7 o’clock in the evening at most polling stations across the country, but this was extended in some areas where balloting was delayed because of logistical glitches.
Voting opened on schedule at 7 o’clock in the morning in much of the country, but was delayed in some areas, mainly in the capital, Harare, and the second city, Bulwayo, due to the unavailability of ballot papers.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the body in charge of running national elections, said legal challenges in the courts by political parties and contestants in some areas in the run-up to the vote, had delayed the printing and distribution of ballot papers for some constituencies.
But it said voting in the affected areas would be extended beyond the stipulated 7 pm closing time, to compensate for the lost time.
Reports countrywide indicated most of the polling stations that were unaffected by the ballot paper glitches, and opened on schedule in the morning, closed at the regulated time.
The majority, in fact, had no voters still coming in to cast their ballots at the time they closed doors.
But the extension of voting in some areas would be lengthy, as some polling stations opened very late in the day due to the delays in the delivery of ballot papers.
While ZEC was not available to comment on the extension, in some cases, this will extend well into Thursday morning based on the time voting started.
Under the law, voting in a general election should run for at least 12 hours, and for some constituencies, this extends way into the early hours of Thursday.
Wednesday’s vote, in which the electorate was choosing a new president, and parliamentary and local government representatives, was supposed to run for just day.
Apart from the ballot paper glitches, election officials countrywide said voting had gone on smoothly, with no incidents of violence.
Over six million people had registered to vote in the election, quite a sizeable percent being young, first time voters.
Voter turnout in most areas was high, with some polling stations reporting queues from as early as five o’clock in the morning.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is seeking a second presidential term, is widely seen as the front runner, riding on the wave of impactful economic reforms, and infrastructure developments that have transformed the lives of millions in the country in the last five years.
As in the last general election in 2018, his main challenger is opposition Citizens Coalition for Change leader, Nelson Chamisa, who exuded confidence of winning on Wednesday after he cast his ballot.
The results of the elections are expected within five days.