from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THERE are already vote rigging allegations in Zimbabwe after voting got off to a chaotic start on Wednesday, amid delays in opening of some polling stations at the stipulated time of 07h00.
This followed the non-delivery of some local authority ballot papers.
This is reportedly a trend in the capital Harare, and the second largest city, Bulawayo, both the strongholds of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
This is allegedly a move by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to frustrate voters.
ZEC, confirmed there were delays in Harare and Bulawayo, is accused of allegiance to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
“Delays in the openings have largely been caused by delays in printing of the ballot paper arising from numerous court challenges,” ZEC stated.
By 07h00, the commission confirmed 23 percent of voting stations in Harare had been opened. In Bulawayo 75 percent of stations opened at 08h15.
It assured that those at queues by 19h00 when stations are supposed to close would be allowed to vote.
Stations must be open for 12 continuous hours, therefore that will also be factored in as to when stations that opened late would close.
Some stations were reportedly still to open by midday because of lack of voting material.
“We are still waiting to cast our votes since morning and no ballot papers have been deployed yet,” said Edward Madziwa outside a polling station in Westlea Primary School in Harare.
The stress was palpable among those waiting in the queue.
The same situation prevailed in the Budiriro Primary School.
“I am still here and this is 13h26,” said a registered voter.
“This is happening mainly in opposition strongholds across the country, it is illegal because voting material is supposed to be at a polling station 48 hours before voting starts. This is a form of rigging called voter suppression, many will get fed up and leave,” charged Hopewell Chin’ono, one of the vocal critics of the government of incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Wednesday asked ZEC to extend voting time at some polling stations in the country after polling was delayed.
“The public is advised that all polling stations that opened late for reasons beyond the control of the presiding officer will remain open to cater for the period of the delay, keeping in mind the polling station must remain open for a continuous period of at least 12 hours on polling day,” ZEC stated.
Mnangagwa (80) is seeking a second term in the election that was marred by court challenges, violence and bias by state media as well as law enforcement agencies.
The poll is forecast to be a two horse-race between him and CCC’s Nelson Chamisa.
At the end of the 2018 elections, soldiers shot dead six people during protests against the delayed announcement of the result.
– CAJ News