Press statement on the overview of the Election Day

The Election Situation Room has 41 members who have observers, monitors and peace champions who are community based in the country’s 210 constituencies. These have been deployed to observe the electoral process. The ESR congratulates Zimbabweans on a largely peaceful election. ESR observers around the country have reported that, despite long queues and confusion at split polling stations on where to vote, people waited patiently. Overall observers and monitors report show that the atmosphere of the election was calm and peaceful. While citizen calls and members reports showed that in some areas some incidents and intimidation occurred, the ESR also received calls and observer reports that the process proceeded well.The ESR provides an overview of some of the incidents that were received from observers and citizens who called in.

Long queues

Evidenced by the long queues we can infer at this stage that the turnout was high and voting was characterised by long queues which were processed slowly. Calls from citizens showed that some were in the queues for more than 2 hours. Long queues and slow processing of voters was seen in most parts of the country. In some areas ushers were helping to speed up the process.

The allocation of sub-polling stations by the alphabet using surnames from A-L and then the rest M-Z were allocated another polling station. There were fewer people in the A-L queues. and did not help the situation as there are more people in Zimbabwe with surnames starting with the letter M.

There were a number cases where people were at the wrong polling station. Voters registered at Kuwadzana 1 polling station, Harare, were told to go to Kuwadzana 3 since Kuwadzana 1 did not exist. Similarly there were reports of change of polling stations to other locations and this was evidenced in Epworth, Glen View and Kuwadzana resulting in people not knowing where to go to vote.

Intimidation

The ESR received reports of intimidation during the day, around polling stations. The most common form of intimidation was by groups of supporters gathered close to a polling station telling people how to vote or taking down the names of people as they went to vote as in Mbare wards 3 and 4, Harare. In Guruve South Ward 12, White Mall Business Centre, Mashonaland Central a Polling officer was reportedly telling people to vote for ZANU PF. Similarly in some places there were people stationed outside polling stations taking a register of those who had finished voting. These are issues that should have been dealt with at the political party liaison committees.

Number of voters turned away

Reports were received of people turned away for being for a number of reasons including wrong polling station, wrong identification documents and for being on the exclusion list which was not known by voters and other electoral stakeholders.

Assisted voters

The issue of assisted voters is provided for in the law however, there was an increase in requests for assistance which could have been caused by the poor lighting and poor quality of print on the ballot papers or intimidation. Furthermore, there were a number of calls from citizens claiming that they had been forced to accept assistance. The ESR will follow the trends of assisted voters to see whether a pattern develops around the issue.

Inadequate lighting

Poor light also affected voting in all parts of the country. Reports since morning showed that citizens were not happy with the lighting in most polling stations. The problem was exacerbated in some cases by the ballots for Councillor Elections which had poor quality photographs. Gas lamps have been provided in the polling kits for counting but, poor conditions could affect the ability of observers and party agents to verify the counting process.

Poor printing of ballot paper which was not visible

Councillor ballot papers were not clear especially in areas such as Bulawayo, Chipinge Central, and Sanyati Ward 14 Chenjiri and Manicaland. The quality of the ballot paper and its printing was sub-standard and in some instances voters had to go outside the booth due to inadequate lighting.

Campaigning within 100 metre radius

There were no campaigns in the 100 metre radius of the polling station. However, some people were seen wearing Party regalia around 300 metres of the polling stations and telling people how to vote. This was seen as intimidation of voters.

Voters with special needs

It is positive to note that ZEC provided ballot booths for wheel chair users and persons of short stature in all polling stations. In some places persons with special needs were accorded respect and priority to vote. However, ESR member reports showed a lack of uniform practice as to how persons with special needs were to be assisted as some stations did not provide the same support.

Conclusion

The Election Situation Room has 41 members who have observers, monitors and peace champions who are community based in the country’s 210 constituencies. These have been deployed to observe the electoral process. The ESR congratulates Zimbabweans on a largely peaceful election. ESR observers around the country have reported that, despite long queues and confusion at split polling stations on where to vote, people waited patiently. Overall observers and monitors report show that the atmosphere of the election was calm and peaceful. While citizen calls and members reports showed that in some areas some incidents and intimidation occurred, the ESR also received calls and observer reports that the process proceeded well.

About the ESR

The Election Situation Room was convened by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. The Election Situation Room provides a platform for effective citizen monitoring and domestic observation of electoral processes, where key stakeholders and the general public can feed information and receive timely updates on key electoral processes. To achieve this, more than 40 organizations drawn from across the country and from different sectors have come together under the banner of the Election Situation Room. It has a Steering Committee that provide guidance and leadership to the ESR. The members of the Steering Committee are: Counselling Services Unit, Election Resource Centre, Habakkuk Trust, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped, National Association of Youth Organizations, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and Zimbabwe Peace Project. These organizations have accredited observers, monitors, peace ambassadors who are community based. The ESR has a call Centre where members of the public are calling to report any incidents observed.

For more information, contact the Election Situation Room on the following details:

Contact mobile: 0782092799
URL: zimelectionsituationroom.org
Facebook: ZimelectionsituationRoom
Twitter: @ElectionRoom
SMS/WhatsApp: 0774767556 and 0771514292