By Felex Share and Farirai Machivenyika
Zimbabweans took to the polls in their millions yesterday, with most polling stations recording an average voter turnout of 75 percent. The polls were conducted in a peaceful manner, while most polling stations opened on time. Vote counting had started in some areas last night as stipulated by the law.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba last night told journalists that voting went on well countrywide.
“However, all those people who were queuing were still being attended to because the law says everybody who was queued up by 7pm must be attended to.
“At 6pm most polling stations had recorded a voter turnout averaging 75 percent. It is our view that the high voter turnout is indicative of sound voter education and publicity conducted on a receptive electorate. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has ensured that the electorate has been afforded the opportunity to exercise its constitutional right to elect its leaders.”
She said the voting atmosphere was peaceful throughout the country.
“It is largely attributed to the presence of the Zimbabwe Republic Police who maintained order at polling stations and it is a good deportment of our Zimbabwean citizens,” Justice Chigumba said.
“Even in the face of long queues in some instances at some polling stations, the Zimbabwean citizens still exhibited tolerance and patience.”
In terms of polling overview, she said, voting went on well and there was generally a high voter turnout at most polling stations.
“By 6pm, the Commission had received reports of voter turnout from four out of our 10 provinces namely Masvingo, Bulawayo, Midlands and Harare,” she said.
In Masvingo at about 6pm, the voter turnout was at 60.6 percent with less than one percent turned away for reasons such as not having valid identity cards, defaced identity cards and not appearing on the voters’ roll.
In Bulawayo, voting progressed well with an average turnout of 70 percent with slightly over one percent being turned away.
Besides being turned away for not being on the voters’ roll, some aspiring voters brought expired passports, drivers’ licences and birth certificates which are not permissible to enable one to exercise their right to vote. In Midlands, voting proceeded well and turnout was 75 percent while those turned away constituted about one percent for the same reasons as mentioned before.”
Justice Chigumba said polling stations in Harare recorded an average voter turnout of 70 percent.
“At some polling stations, queues had disappeared by late afternoon while at other centres queues were still visible,” she said.
“This was due to high turnout at some composite polling stations which resulted in some voters taking time to identify their correct polling station.”
She said the electoral body expected to receive statistics from the other six provinces late yesterday.
On a sad note, Justice Chigumba said a female voter had died at a polling station in Matabeleland South.
“The Commission is saddened to learn of an unfortunate incident that occurred in Bulilima where a female voter collapsed and died at a polling station,” she said.
On vote counting, she said: “Vote counting has commenced in some areas in terms of provisions of the law. The counting is conducted in the presence of agents, observers and members of the press at polling station level. The stakeholders are respectfully reminded that once the processes of counting has commenced they are not allowed to leave the counting centre until the process has been finalised.”
“The Commission would like to thank the Zimbabwean public for exercising their right to vote in peace and would like to urge Zimbabweans to be patient as they wait for the results. All stakeholders are reminded to desist from announcing results as this is the prerogative of the Commission only,” she said.