HARARE Province recorded a high voter turnout in yesterday’s historic harmonised elections, with over 450 000 having cast their ballots by 3pm, representing about 50 percent of registered voters. The province, which has 19 constituencies, has just over 900 000 registered voters.
Breakdowns of voting patterns per constituency could not be immediately obtained as the Provincial Elections Officer Ms Fiona Kurima said she was tied up.
“The figure I only have for now is an estimate as at 3pm. The figure is around 450 200. We are currently collecting figures from constituencies and they can be available later on,” said Ms Kurima.
Voter turnout was high, particularly in the morning as most polling stations in the capital were swarmed by voters.
Mabvazuva Secondary in Epworth had hundreds of voters by midday, waiting to cast their ballots while an even bigger number of voters was also seen in Hopley.
Most of the voters said the voting process was generally fast with a voter spending not more than three minutes, if they were able to read and write.
Most queues had disappeared by lunch time, with some polling stations later recording a marginal rise in the number of voters wanting to beat the 7pm closing time.
In Harare Central constituency, 11 957 voters had cast their ballots by 2pm, said a ZEC official at the constituency Command Centre, Mr Paul Gomba.
Indications were that about 9 936 people had also cast their ballots in Mufakose by 3pm.
As at 5pm, about 22 402 people had voted in Mabvuku-Tafara constituency.
Former Ethiopia Prime Minister Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, who is Head of the African Union Election Observer Mission to Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised elections, told The Herald after his tour of Epworth and Hopley that the voting process was being conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner.
“So far we are trying to collect information from areas we are deployed and I think, so far, it’s generally peaceful, orderly and professionally handled. That is our finding,” said Mr Desalegn, a former AU chairperson.
“You know the polling stations which I myself observed, we have visited around eight polling stations so far, at all of them we have tried to ask all stakeholders including opposition parties’ agents in the polling stations. All of them have responded that it’s going orderly and in good fashion.”
Mr Desalegn also hailed the higher voter turnout, adding that polling officers were generally fast in processing voters.
Political party representatives interviewed by The Herald in Harare expressed satisfaction at the way the election was being conducted.
In Mashonaland Central, by 6pm, 210 544 people had voted, 112 966 being females and 97 578 being males while 2 315 were turned away and 15 673 were assisted to vote.
Although people started flocking polling stations as early as 4am, most of the stations were deserted in the afternoon, with hopes that more people will vote before the closing time at 7pm.
Although Zimbabwe Electoral Commission provincial officer, Ms Thenjiwe Mnkandla, expressed satisfaction at the whole electoral process, she said they were having challenges in getting figures from areas like Muzarabani because of poor communication.
She said 105 000 people had cast their votes across the province, while 944 were turned away because they were either under-aged or not appearing in the voters’ roll and 1 704 were assisted to vote.
Demographic data at most visited polling stations showed that more women as well as youths participated in the largely incident-free elections.
Mashonaland Central has 531 984 registered voters and a total of 98 candidates, among them 10 women are vying for National Assembly seats in 18 constituencies.
Some constituencies like Bindura North attracted a total of eight candidates from various political parties, while nine candidates opted to go independent.
“Everything went according to plan as our polling stations opened on time. All the logistics were in place as our deployments began last Thursday. Not all areas in Mashonaland Central have electricity so we have gas cylinders and candles to cater for late night voting as well as the vote counting process,” she said.
However, most polling stations visited in the afternoon were almost deserted, with presiding officers saying most people had voted in the morning.
The numbers slightly increased after 5pm as some people opted to vote after doing other business.
In Guruve South, some voters started flocking the polling station after 6pm, with the presiding officer, Mr Shingirai Chidhakwa, saying they would ask for an extension of the voting time.
Ms Mnkandla also hailed the peaceful environment and said they were not expecting any results yesterday night.
Peace and tranquillity characterised voting at all polling stations in Mashonaland West province with only one minor incident being reported in Chegutu where voting was temporarily stopped.
Voting was temporarily stopped in Ward 6 in Chegutu West after the polling station received a wrong local authority ballot paper.
Across the province, relatively long queues formed at polling stations in the morning, but subsided as the day progressed.
By 2pm at least 221 110 people had cast their votes with 4 668 being turned away for various reasons including not appearing on the voters’ roll and not having required identification particulars.
The province has 655 133 registered voters.
In an interview, ZEC Mashonaland West provincial elections manager Mr Austin Ndlovu expressed satisfaction with the process.
“Polling stations opened timeously in all the districts in the province. The whole voting process across the province was very peaceful,” he said.
“At the beginning of the day, people were trickling in and most polling stations had substantial voters in the morning, but the numbers were dealt with.”
Turning to the incident in Chegutu West where polling in Ward 6 was temporarily suspended, Mr Ndhlovu confirmed the incident which he attributed to late opening of the polling stations.
“We had an incident in Chegutu where polling stations in Ward 6 did not open at the required time after the ward received a wrong local authority ballot paper. That was addressed swiftly and polling resumed,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said as a result of the anomaly, voting was extended to compensate for lost time.
All the 1 438 polling stations in Manicaland Province were open by 7am yesterday with voters starting to queue as early as 5am in some cases.
Provincial elections officer, Mr Moffat Masabeya said there were no reports of violence or challenges across the province.
Manicaland has 733 000 registered voters.
“By 3pm, a total of 345 062 people had voted. They comprised 154 313 males and 190 749 females. A total of 1 970 were assisted. These included 724 males and 1 246 females who have impaired vision. Other people assisted for various reasons totalled 31 687 of which 8 001 were males and 23 686 were female,” he said.
Mr Masabeya said there were 2 365 males who had been turned away while 2 830 females shared the same fate. He expressed confidence that voting would be concluded yesterday in all 26 constituencies in the province.
In Mutare Central, voting went on smoothly at most centres despite complaints of queues moving slowly.
By lunchtime, voters were getting agitated as they accused polling officers of slowing the process on purpose.
ZEC officers in Sakubva polling stations, however, said the slow pace was a result of the high number of assisted voters in the area.
“Sakubva is an old suburb and we have a high number of elderly people so you find that there are many voters who need to be assisted to vote. As the day progresses, we might see an increase in the number of assisted voters which will slow down the process further,” said one presiding officer.
Voting was also temporarily stopped at Sakubva flea market tent polling station B where MDC-Alliance local government candidate Tsitsi Ziweya argued that the ballot paper had markings, which might render it spoilt.
Polling agents for all candidates later agreed to continue using the ballot papers and ensure that during counting of votes, they would not be considered spoilt ballots.
By 4pm, voters were trickling in to cast their votes at most centres.
In Mutare North and Mutare West voting was progressing well with very few challenges reported by 3pm.
In Buhera South constituency queues had disappeared at most polling stations by lunch time as most voters turned out for voting early in the morning.
In Chimanimani East and West constituencies, a total of 9 418 voters had cast their votes by 1pm with women constituting the bigger percentage.
The district election officer Mr Godfrey Machowa said voting was going on smoothly with all centres having started at 7am.
In Dangamvura/Chikanga, there were complaints from voters who were turned away because their names did not appear in the voters roll.
However, voting progressed well throughout the day, albeit slowly, leaving voters at Sacred Heart primary school polling stations irate.
Voting went well in Mutasa Central with no incidents of violence recorded.
MDC-Alliance National Assembly candidate Trevor Saruwaka was pleased with high turnout of voters.
He raised concern over the high number of people who were assisted in voting and intimidation especially in Ward 16 Mt Jenya.
He also claimed that there were people who had been caught with sample ballot papers in Ward 20 Tsowa and Mutasa.
There was high voter turnout across Masvingo Province during yesterday’s harmonised elections with various political parties and election officials lauding the plebiscite as peaceful.
Voting started at 7am in the morning at all polling stations across the province where long queues started forming before polling started.
Some of the voters in Masvingo Urban, Zaka and Chiredzi were at various polling stations as early as 4am in order to be the early birds.
The only blemish in the otherwise flawless voting exercise was the 30-minute stoppage of voting at Vurombo Primary School polling station in Masvingo Urban around 3.20pm where a spoilt ballot paper inscribed with a campaign message for MDC-Alliance presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa was found inside the voting booth. The ballot paper was written the party’s slogan, “Chisa Mpama Chisa”.
The presiding officer Mrs Abigail Mushayabasa confirmed the incident, but refused to shed more detail while ZEC Masvingo provincial elections officer Mr Zex Pudurai hailed the general peaceful conduct of the elections across the province saying voting went on flawlessly.
“The election was very peaceful and everything went well and we never received reports of any hitches throughout the day. Voting started as scheduled at 7am at all polling stations in the province,” said Mr Pudurai.
Mr Emmanuel Magade the ZEC deputy chairperson urged political parties to accept the results of the polls as an expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
“My message to the people of Zimbabwe is that they must exercise their right to vote without fear or compulsion and so far the atmosphere is very peaceful. Our ambition as ZEC is whatever outcome represents the true reflection of the wishes of the Zimbabwean people,’’ said Mr Magade.
Among the notable polling stations in Masvingo Urban where there was a record voter turnout was the tent along the Mutare-Masvingo highway.
The main contenders in the race for the Masvingo Urban parliamentary seat Cde Taguma Mazarire of Zanu-PF and Mr Jacob Nyokanhete of MDC-Alliance expressed confidence of winning the seat describing the poll as peaceful with high voter turnout.
Mines and Mining Development minister and Zanu-PF parliamentary candidate for the constituency Cde Winston Chitando voted at Gonye Primary School 2pm in Gutu Central where 330 people had cast their ballots by 2pm. Gutu South ZEC presiding officer Mr Johnson Madzimure said nine people had been assisted to vote at Makore Primary School.
Voting went smoothly across Mashonaland East Province which stretches from Chivhu, Seke, Hwedza, Goromonzi, Murehwa, Marondera up to Nyamapanda with people thronging polling stations as early as 4am. In Hwedza North constituency Zanu-PF candidate Cde David Musabayana and perennial contestant, Mr Egypt Dzinemunenzva of Forces of Liberation of African National were confident of winning the seat.
Cde Musabayana, who is also Minister of State for Provincial Affairs responsible for Mashonaland East Province, said he had done his homework well and deserved to win.
“I have done my part and victory is certain for me and my party Zanu-PF,” said Cde Musabayana, who voted at Scorror Tent.
Mr Dzinemunenzva said he will win despite failing to field adequate election agents which he blamed on his political rivals.
“I only fielded six out of possible 42. I did not receive media coverage during my campaigns despite knocking on the doors of several media outlets,” said Mr Dzinemunenzva.
Other contestant in the constituency was Mr Tinashe Makare of MDC Alliance. In Hwedza South Zanu-PF candidate Cde Tinoda Makarika said the work that the revolutionary party had done in the area warranted its victory.
“Victory for me and my party is certain and guaranteed. Our work speaks for themselves,” said Cde Makarika at St Barnabas Primary School polling station where he was assessing the electoral process.
Other candidates in the constituency are Mr Archibald Royc of People Rainbow Coalition and Mr Phanuel Gukwe.
Hwedza South constituency Chief Elections Officer Mrs Catherine Bango said the process had gone well.
She said three visually impaired had cast their votes by lunch hour.
Chikomba Central constituency Deputy Chief Elections Officer Mrs Memory Mutsimba said at least 174 people had been turned away by 4pm yesterday. She said some people had turned up with birth certificates while others had expired passports while others were on the exclusion list.
“We had to send additional supply of ink to two polling stations.
Those eyeing the seat include Cde Felex Mhona of Zanu-PF, Mr Piniel Denga of MDC-Alliance, Mr Eddington Mugova from United Democratic Movement, Mr Thanks Muwungo of People Rainbow Coalition and Mr Ngonidzashe Chandiwana an Independent candidate.
A member of the European Union Observer Mission Mr Carl Grasveld described the process as organised.
In Seke Constituency voters thronged polling stations that included Murape Primary School, Mhindurwa-Mushaninga, Mandedza High Schoo, Kunaka Hospital and Manyame Council Offices polling stations as early as 4am.
Nine candidates vying for Seke constituency are Cde Tobias Munyaradzi Kashambe (Zanu-PF), Kunaka Tawineyi (MDC Alliance), Silus Mabika (NCA), Almighty Marembo (People’s Rainbow Coalition), Charles Kaseke (ZIPP), Chengetai Rairo Gunguwo (Independent), Hazvipere Lean Gava (CODE), Christopher Gandiwa (UNAC) and Kudakwashe Chikwanha (Independent).
The elections in the constituency were conducted in a very peaceful environment and this was confirmed by presiding officers who spoke to The Herald.
The Herald, however, witnessed some foreign journalists interviewing people while they lined to vote at a number of polling stations in Seke constituency in violation of the law.
The scribes were ignorant of the law.
The Herald also observed that in Seke constituency the MDC-Alliance failed to field election agents at a number of polling stations contrary to claims by their leader Mr Nelson Chamisa that they had capacity to put agents at each and every polling station countrywide.
In Goromonzi voting was smooth.
Seven candidates are eyeing Goromonzi West and these include Energy Mutodi (Zanu-PF), Luke Tamborinyoka (MDC-Alliance) and Taurai Nhambura (MDC-Alliance).
The same situation prevailed in Goromonzi North where Zanu-PF’s Cde Ozias Bvute is battling it out with Ellard Sauka (MDC-Alliance), Allan Mapira (PRC), George Samanyanga (MDC-T) and Brian Muriyengwe (ZIPP).
There were no incidences of violence or disruption of the voting process in Murewa North and Murewa South constituencies. Eyeing Murehwa North are Zanu-PF Cde Daniel Garwe, Golden Mutize (MDC-Alliance), Emmanuel Chiroto (Build Zimbabwe), among other candidates while the battle in Murehwa South pitted Cde Joe Matiza, Jonathan Chawora (MDC Alliance) and Noah Mangondo (Independent).
Long queues of people waiting to cast the ballot were witnessed at the two constituencies.
A presiding officer at Rutendo Primary School in Redcliff was relieved of his duties yesterday after he breached the Electoral Act when he addressed voters prior to the voting process.
Kwekwe District elections officer Mr Assan Mkwananzi confirmed that Mr Edson Kupenga was relieved of his duties and more details will be provided today.
“We are ceased with that matter and we are trying to see how best we can handle it in terms of procedures. But I can confirm that he breached the Electoral Act and was fired around 1 in the afternoon after we received the news,” said Mr Mkwanazi.
This was the only somewhat blemish incident in Midlands province as voting ended at most polling stations in time at 7 pm with verification and counting starting immediately.
Official statistics of votes were not immediately available last night as polling officers were still tallying, but 761 472 voters were registered in the province.
Midlands Provincial Elections Officer Mrs Dorcas Mpofu said the electoral board did not encounter major problems from deployment of polling officers, distribution of ballot papers and voting.
The province has eight districts and 29 constituencies and more than 120 wards for council elections. ZEC deployed 12 386 polling officers, 1 540 presiding officers to man 1 540 polling stations throughout the province.
In Kwekwe, the voting process went well at most polling stations.
Kwekwe District has five constituencies which are Kwekwe Central, Mbizo, Redcliff, Silobela and Zhombe.
President Mnangagwa, First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa and son Emmerson Junior also cast their ballot successfully at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe.
In Gokwe South, most polling stations had long queues in the morning, but the number started to go down later in the afternoon. Our team witnessed voting at Empress Mine turn-off polling station, St Paul’s and Mapfungautsi Primary Schools among other polling stations. Almost the same trend was observed in Nembudziya, Chireya and Chitekete areas in Gokwe North.
Gokwe North District elections officer Mr Pastor Chakamba said most polling stations closed at 7pm.
Voting in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Chirumanzu South constituencies went on smoothly with the polling stations opening as scheduled at 7am.