All set for highly anticipated polls

Felex Share Senior Reporter
Zimbabweans today decide their Government for the next five years, with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday saying all was in place for the harmonised elections. The plebiscite will see the election of a State President, 210 national assembly members and councillors.

This is the first time Zimbabwe is using a biometric voters’ roll in an election that will be polling station-based.
A record 23 people are in the race for the country’s Presidency.
President Mnangagwa is the Zanu-PF candidate.

ZEC acting chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said they were ready for the polls.
He said 10 985 polling stations established countrywide will open at 7am and close at 7 pm.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at this stage can confirm that all our polling officers, including the material required at the polling stations, have now been deployed,” he said.

“They are busy now doing rehearsals to ensure that Zimbabweans vote tomorrow. We are also just doing some final touches in places where we had a delay in receiving tents. They are finalising pitching those tents, but the places are few. We are happy to say we never had problems in terms of deployment. We deployed well and were supported by the State to acquire adequate vehicles. Come tomorrow we are sure that we will be ready.”

ZEC has recruited about 130 000 election officers.
Mr Silaigwana said they expected people not to stand in queues for a long period.
“We have rationalised the number of people per polling station,” he said.

“We have got a maximum of 1 000 voters per polling station. The elderly, pregnant women, disabled and those sick will be given priority when they get to the polling stations. They should not worry because they are not going to stand for long.

“Voting will take the normal procedure where people will go in and first get checked if they are in the voters’ roll, they will be given the presidential, national assembly and local authority ballot papers and then get inked to show that they have voted.

“At this juncture, I am appealing to ladies with fingers with nail polish to clean them, not necessarily all of them because we will be marking the left small finger. If you don’t have one, we go to the next finger. They should remove anything that is not natural on that finger.”

Mr Silaigwana urged voters to carry with them valid documents and maintain peace.
Candidates and political parties, he said, should accept the poll results.

“We are encouraging those who have registered to vote in this election to go to the polling stations in the morning with their national identity cards or valid passports,” he said.

“A driver’s licence is not permissible for identifying for the purposes of voting precisely because it does not show that you are a citizen and some who took drivers’ licences long back, they do not even show identity numbers. We also encourage people to come early. There has been some rumours that ZEC has pens that are magical. That is nonsense. We will put ordinary ball point pens that are used by children at school and at home. If you feel like bringing your own pen you can do so provided it is an ordinary one. Once a person has finished voting we encourage them to be peaceful. This is a clarion call. Let us go and vote in peace and avoid at all any violence, hate speech and anything untoward so that we can as a country be proud that we have had a peaceful and credible election.”

Mr Silaigwana added: “We have got observers all over the world and they would want to go home saying Zimbabweans are a mature people, they have held their elections in peace. I am encouraging all the participating candidates and political parties to accept the outcome of this election. This is your election, support the process so that you can also support your country in that regard.”

At least 5 695 706 people have registered as voters and ZEC has printed 6 150 950 ballot papers.
The eight percent contingency is in line with Section 52A of the Electoral Act.

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