Bulawayo turnout exceeds expectations

Voting in Bulawayo went on smoothly at all polling stations in the province, but the late arrival of ballot papers forced an extension of the voting process to today.

There was a high turnout of voters in the province, particularly in Ward 1, at the party’s provincial headquarters at Davies Hall.

Bulawayo elections team leader Cde George Nare said the turnout in Bulawayo surpassed expectations.

He said a number of people were turned away as the ruling party strictly adhered to the voters’ roll that was compiled during the cell verification exercise.

At some polling stations, some candidates were accused of trying to buy votes and tamper with the cell registers.

Cde Nare said one of the candidates aspiring to represent the ruling party in the race for the Bulawayo Central National Assembly seat, Cde Raymond Mutomba, was caught trying to tamper with cell registers inside his car at Davies Hall.

“I personally caught Cde Mutomba filling in cell registers and we have raised the issue with the (Zanu-PF) National Elections Directorate, which will handle the matter,” he said.

At Westgate polling station, which falls under Makokoba Constituency, some disgruntled members accused the incumbent MP Cde Tshinga Dube of interfering with the voting process by allegedly influencing election officials to turn them away

Cde Dube denied the allegations, saying those who were turned away were not in the cell registers.

“I never influenced officials to turn away potential voters,” he said. “In fact, those who were turned away did not have their names in the cell registers.”

At Elangeni Training Centre, police deployed at the polling station had a torrid time as they tried to control the huge number of disgruntled people who had been turned away.

Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial commissar Cde Canaan Ncube said the polls went on well.

“The primary elections went on smoothly at all our polling stations and we had a high turnout,” he said. “I am not sure whether or not the results will be ready for release tonight (last night).”

In Matabeleland South province, the voting process kicked off shortly after 2pm in most constituencies.

In an interview, Matabeleland South provincial elections commissioner Dr Simbi Mubako said there was likely to be a re-run for candidates contesting for parliamentary seats in Insiza North and Gwanda North as some candidates had been omitted on the ballot papers.

“The voting process is running smoothly throughout the province, although we started late because the voting material arrived late from Harare,” he said. “We are trying to complete the voting process today (yesterday), even if it means working late into the night, but if we fail there will be a spillover to tomorrow.

“Some candidates were complaining that their names were not appearing on the ballots and we are handling the situation.

“There might be a possible re-run in the affected constituencies, but that will be determined by our National Elections Directorate in Harare. If a candidate was omitted unfairly, we will withhold those results.”

Dr Mubako said although some voters were not happy over the issue, they did not engage in acts of violence to vent their anger.

In Matabeleland North, voting started on a low note with only Umguza district going to the polls shortly after midday, while ballot papers and election officers were expected to arrive in Bubi district by end of day.

In Lupane, election officers were deployed at around 5pm following day-long preparations of the ballots for the local authorities which were not readily available.

The deployment was coordinated from the party’s provincial offices in Lupane, which is also being used as the Matabeleland North command centre

Other districts such as Binga, Hwange, Nkayi and Tsholotsho will go to the polls today when the deployment of election officers and dispatching of voting material is expected to have been completed.

Party officials noted that delays in deployment of election officers were a result of logistical challenges emanating from the distance between the command centre and various polling sites in the vast province.

Retired Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena, who is supervising the elections in Matabeleland North, said he would be able to comment on the developments today.

There are 191 polling centres in the province based on the party’s districts.

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