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Huge turnout for elections countrywide

by Staff reporter
24 Aug 2023 at 06:37hrs | Views
Thousands of people thronged polling stations across the country to cast their votes for their preferred candidates for Presidential, National Assembly and local authority elections.

A peaceful environment characterised the voting process throughout, underscoring the long-held view that Zimbabweans are peace-loving people.

The campaign period itself was largely peaceful with just minor incidents reported, contrary to other countries where fierce fighting and killings take place during campaigning and on voting day.

Most polling stations were a hive of activity from as early as 4am as voters arrived to join queues wanting to be the first to cast the vote, and spend the day, which was a holiday, with family and friends.

First time voters, mainly youths, were also part of the thousands who turned up.

President Mnangagwa, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa and family, voted at Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe.

There was a lot of activity in Kwekwe, with about 6 000 people casting their ballots by mid-morning in Kwekwe Central Constituency, according to the constituency elections officer Mr Edmund Magaya.

However, voting started late at some polling stations across the country as voting material arrived late, or did not arrive at all, prompting the gazetting of a Statutory Instrument late last night, to allow those that did not vote to get an opportunity to cast votes.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday said about four wards in Manicaland Province didn't not vote due to delays in the arrival of voting material while in other areas, the ballot papers had mixed up pictures and party symbols.

Minister Mutsvangwa said she then spoke with Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister to establish the next course of action under the circumstances and was assured that a Statutory Instrument would be gazetted to allow everyone to vote, if they failed yesterday.

Therefore, all wards that did not vote yesterday, will have a chance to vote today from 7am to 7pm.

In Harare, voting at most polling stations started at 7am, with voting starting at about 7:20am at David Livingstone Primary School's polling station B, as scores of observers, including former Mozambique President Joachim Chissano, was there to witness the start of the process.

There were four polling stations at David Livingstone Primary, and the other three started at 7am.

President Chissano said he was happy with the process and peace that characterised the start of voting.

At Queen Elizabeth School and Girls High School in Harare, voting went well with hundreds of voters turning up.

Some areas such as Glen View, Budiriro and Warren Park, received voting material late, with voting continuing well after 7pm in Warren Park after ballot papers came late.

There was low activity in the central business district with most shops closed and roads clear, with the bulk of vehicles seen at polling stations.

In Bulawayo, voting at some of the polling stations was also delayed by late delivery of ballot papers, among others.

Polling began three hours late in Bulawayo South Constituency, but determined voters remained on the queue.

More than 300 people patiently waited for the voting to start at Greenfield Primary School. Zanu-PF candidate for Bulawayo South Constituency, Raj Modi, commended voters for their patience and orderly conduct during the delayed voting process.

Similarly, Lobengula Magwegwe Constituency encountered late starts in some wards but voters displayed remarkable patience.

In Cowdray Park, after a six-hour wait under the scorching sun, residents, including Professor Mthuli Ncube, the Zanu-PF National Assembly candidate, finally cast their votes.

Prof Ncube stressed his commitment to action and expressed pride in the country's economic achievements.

In Ward 23 of the Nkulumane Constituency, 3 308 males and 3 769 females had cast their votes by 7pm.

Assisted voters were 48 males and 107 females while 45 males and 35 females were turned away for various reasons.

Voting in a majority of wards within the Bulawayo Central Constituency also started late, with some polling stations anticipated to remain open well past midnight.

In Matabeleland South, voting progressed peacefully from 7am.

In the morning, there were long queues at various polling stations in high-density areas of Gwanda urban while the low-density areas were characterised by shorter queues.

By 3pm, polling stations in Gwanda urban had started handling a handful of voters who were trickling in as the day progressed. Voters in some polling stations faced challenges as their names were not appearing on the voter's roll, but were referred to other polling stations.

The elderly and people with disabilities were given preferential treatment at polling stations.

Matabeleland South provincial elections officer, Mr Rabson Nyoni said all polling stations in the province completed the election process on time.

"We made it a point that all outstanding issues were addressed before the election day. The voting process progressed well and it was peaceful across the province," he said.

In Bulilima and Mangwe constituencies, voting went peacefully until closing time at 7pm. Bulilima Constituency election officer Mr Vincent Sibanda said by 5pm, 21 106 voters comprising 6 766 males and 14 340 females had cast their votes. The constituency has 19 wards and 76 polling stations.

Early voting was witnessed in Insiza constituencies with preliminary statistics showing that women dominated the polls as they voted more than their male counterparts.

Insiza South National Assembly Zanu-PF candidate, Spare Sithole, was among the first people to cast their votes at St Matthews Primary School polling station.

In Gwanda South, the voting exercise was peaceful with polling stations opening at 7am and closing at 7pm.

Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Abedinico Ncube was one of the first voters at Buvuma Primary School.

Ncube, who waited patiently in the queue for his turn to cast his vote, expressed satisfaction with the voting process.

In Matobo Constituency, voting proceeded without incident and less than 7 000 people had cast their votes by 6pm.

Constituency elections officer, Mr Marko Dube said preparations for the elections went smoothly with ballot papers and other equipment having been at polling stations two days before.

In Beitbridge, Zanu-PF Vice President and Second Secretary Kembo Mohadi voted at Beitbridge Government Primary School in Ward 2.

In Matabeleland North Province, voting went on well with all but one polling station opening after the prescribed 7am with the provincial elections officer, Mr Richard Sibanda saying no major challenges were encountered.

He said only Mazansia polling station in Binga South opened at 7:30am as they were having challenges communicating with that station.

Zanu-PF's Lupane East constituency candidate, Phathisiwe Ncube, expressed satisfaction with voting process.

She cast her vote at Makhovula Primary School in Lupane.

In Tsholotsho District voting began at 7am at almost all polling stations and proceeded normally and peacefully for the rest of the day. There were no challenges although the turn-out was a bit subdued at some polling stations.

In Tsholotsho South, 4 419 people had voted late in the afternoon before closure of polling stations, with only 16 polling stations out of 83 stations submitting figures to the command centre by 2pm.

The highlight of the day was the participation of the San community in the Mtshina area under Chief Goledema in Tsholotsho North. The community participated in the process for the first time after Government's decision to integrate it into the rest of the country through the issuance of relevant identity documents.

In Umguza constituency voting started at 7am and it was generally peaceful throughout the day.

Zanu-PF candidate for the constituency Richard Moyo led the early voters and cast his vote 10 minutes after the 7am opening time at Green Haven polling station. He came out happy saying the process was fast.

Other candidates vying for the seat are Ms Queen Maligwa of the Citizens Coalition for Change, Mr Peter Khumbula Ncube of the Democratic Official Party (DOP), Mr Young Sibanda an independent candidate and Mr Andrew Wilson of UZA.

Zanu-PF Secretary General Dr Obert Mpofu, together with his wife Sikhanyisiwe also cast their votes in the constituency.

Voter turnout, according to presiding officers interviewed, was average across the constituency, with records revealing that more women than men had cast their votes.

A bigger percentage of voters were youths while there was a handful of elderly voters as well.

The number of voters turned away was low and most of them had showed up with no national identity documents while some went to wrong polling stations.

In Nkayi District voting started at 7am but network challenges saw some polling officers failing to give regular updates to their constituencies command centres.

In Nkayi South as at 4pm, 28 out of the 59 polling stations had submitted their statistics to the district command centre, according to the constituency elections officer, Ms Langelihle Maipisi.

In Nkayi North, constituency elections officer Mr Mncedisi Ndlovu said as at 2pm they had collected voting figures from 22 out of the 60 polling stations in the constituency that has four candidates in the National Assembly contest.

Zanu-PF is represented by Sithembiso Nyoni, CCC has Mr Mandla Ndlovu while Mr Chief Ndlovu is standing in for MDC-T. There is one independent candidate, Ms Sithabisiwe Mathema.

In Hwange District's three constituencies, voting started at 7am at most polling stations and proceeded without glitches.

The district has Hwange Central, Hwange East and Hwange West constituencies.

In rural polling stations, some voters complained that pictures of candidates on the ballot papers were not visible, making it difficult for the elderly who depended on pictures to see their preferred candidates.

Hwange District elections officer Mrs Sithembile Mlilo said turnout was satisfactory basing on voter population.

Binga District was no exception as a peaceful atmosphere prevailed as voting progressed in the two constituencies of Binga North and Binga South.

In Masvingo district, 16 496 males and 17 649 females had voted by 3pm while 604 were redirected.

A total of 410 were turned away, and 1 056 were assisted.

In Mwenezi District, 13 525 males and 17 858 females voted by late afternoon, with 110 redirected while 287 were turned away and 1 729 were assisted.

Gutu and Bikita districts had not sent statistics to the Command Centre by 3pm.

In Chivi District, 10 971 males and 14 222 females had voted by 3pm, with 102 voters redirected, while 362 were turned away.

Chiredzi District had 40 884 males and 43 055 females who voted by afternoon while 590 were redirected.

In Zaka, 28 550 males and 43 194 females voted by 3pm.

In Mashonaland East, the Mudzi district elections officer Mrs Loice Masimu said voting went on well and results for local authorities and National Assembly are expected to start trickling in today.

Voting in all five constituencies in Gokwe South district started at 7am and progressed well throughout the day.

Voting went well in Gweru Urban, Mkoba South and North constituencies, with no hassles.

In separate interviews after voting, voters praised the peaceful environment.

Mr Prosper Kahunde of Mudzi said he was satisfied.

"Last elections we spent hours waiting to vote, but this time around it was well organised. When l arrived at 9am l thought it was the usual only to cast my vote at ease," he said.

A first time voter, Ms Rudo Kandiya (23) of Harare said she was over the moon for having voted.

"This is my first time to be voting its quite a refreshing experience. I was just nervous but when l was inside the polling station the process was smooth.

"I also thought it takes time, but l spent less than five minutes inside," she said.

Mrs Rutendo Rwenya from Chivhu said she was happy that the elections were peaceful.

"I am happy that the polls were peaceful and there was no violence in the constituency. I would like to thank all voters and the leadership at large for maintaining peace in the elections," she said.

A Warren Park resident, Mrs Anna Gondo however, complained about the voting delays.

"I came here at 7am, but it's now 10am and l am yet to cast my vote. The elections officer says they are waiting for ballot papers of local authority candidates," she said.

Source - The Herald