Independent elections bodies report vote delays

Abel Karowangoro

Local independent election bodies, Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) this afternoon reported delays and incidents of voter intimidation.

In a joint statement assessing the opening of voting earlier, the two bodies also reported a case of assault on an elections monitoring staff.

“The late opening of polling, predominantly affecting urban areas such as Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan Provinces. Over 11% of observers reported that their designated polling stations did not open until after 8 a.m. Shockingly, 7% of these cases reported delays lasting beyond 9 am, more than two hours past the official opening time,” reads the statement.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) acknowledged the problem, attributing it to missing local authority ballot papers.

“ZEC announced that affected stations might stay open beyond the usual 7 p.m. closing time. However, this approach risks disenfranchising voters unable to endure long queues or cast their ballots late into the night.”

” ZEC’s posting of the voters’ roll outside polling stations aimed to support voter information, approximately 9% of observers noted that this information was missing at their polling stations.

“Many stations that did open on time were appropriately staffed, ensuring the setup allowed for secret ballot marking.

An unfortunate incident was reported involving a ZESN observer who was physically assaulted in Gutu West, Masvingo Province.

“Long queues were observed at numerous polling stations across the country, with some still unopened by midday, leaving voters waiting patiently,” reads the statement.

The ERC and ZESN caution against jumping to conclusions about the overall conduct of Election Day, emphasizing that their assessment will encompass the entire electoral cycle, not just the voting phase.

Both organizations aim to release preliminary findings on voting and counting shortly. As the voting process continues, they encourage all eligible citizens to exercise their voting rights and maintain peace throughout the process and beyond.

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