Voting Starts At Slow Pace In Zimbabwe As Tsvangirai Votes
By Simplicius Chirinda
Harare, July 31, 2013-Thousands of voters braved a wintry morning to cast the vote in Zimbabwe’s watershed harmonised elections currently underway throughout the country.
Radio VOP witnessed long winding queues at most polling stations around the country with urban centres being flooded early in the morning as people voted.
In Harare’s Glenview suburb, the voters started forming queues as early as 4 am and by 7:05 am the first voter an elderly lady had cast her vote.
“I am just happy that I have voted in this election, I never checked my name during the voter inspection process but I was happy to find it there,” said the elderly lady.
At the nearby Budiriro suburb polling station at Mick Jop Shopping Centre two first time voters told Radio VOP that they were voting for change.
“I just want change that’s why I am voting,” said one of the first time voters.
Another first time voter said, “This is nice, it feels great to have voted and I am sure I will do it again.”
At Tichagarika Shopping Centre voters complained about a dark polling station because of the gloom morning weather. They wanted the presiding officer to put on lights in the polling station so that voters can see clearly the ballot papers.
At around mid-morning the queues in Harare’s sprawling suburbs were getting long as the weather warmed up.
Several elderly citizens could be seen voting at various suburbs in Highfield. One blind woman voted at Mhofu Primary School, where President Robert Mugabe was scheduled to cast his vote.
“I have been assisted by my son to vote and it did not take me time and I am happy to go back home having voted,” said the lady.
At Kwayedza Primary School, a couple told Radio VOP that their names were moved to a different ward and were asked to approach the command centre to have the case addressed.
Radio VOP followed them to the command centre where their issue was addressed. They were told to go to a different polling station in a different ward. An electronic voters’ roll was used to address the concerns of the people who could not find their names in the other roll.
“I have been told to go to Southlea Park and that’s where my name is, so I will vote there,” said one of the many people that had brought their complaints to the command centre.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai cast his vote at Mt Pleasant High School. Tsvangirai who was accompanied by his wife Elizabeth and adviser Alex Magaisa told journalists that he was confident of winning the election “resoundingly’.
In Mashonaland Central province some police officers were seen in a polling station at while some shops were forced to shut down.
In Mvurwi, voters complained about the slow pace of voting while some Zanu PF supporters violated the law by campaigning early in the morning just before polling commenced. In Muzarabani South, a vehicle with President Robert Mugabe’s poster was parked close to a polling station near St Alberts Mission.
In Masvingo, more than 50 youths were turned away from voting at Rarangwe polling station after being told that their names had been transferred to other wards despite producing voting slips indicating they were registered to vote in that ward.
In Gwanda, voting began peacefully in with voters braving the chilly morning weather to avoid queues expected later today. Some voters were turned away mainly for not appearing on the voters roll. Elvis Ngwenya, a voter says he had to move from ward to ward to look for his name and ended up voting for a councilor for another ward.
In Bulawayo, a Zanu PF activist was arrested for distributing free Net One sim cards and airtime to residents queuing to cast their ballots at Paddonhurst Shopping Centre.
Voting at other centres progressed smoothly, with queues of over 100 people at most polling stations but residents complained over the slow voting process.
Welshman Ncube, the MDC leader, cast his vote at St Patricks in Makokoba suburb and urged President Mugabe to accept defeat.