As part of its comprehensive efforts to observe the Cowdray Park local authority by-election in Ward 28 of Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has deployed 37 polling station based and ward collation centre observers. In addition, ZESN has two mobile teams assessing the political environment outside the polling stations.
Despite the large number of electoral contestants and the high stakes in this by-election, the political environment in Cowdray Park Ward 28 was reported to be largely peaceful and calm. However isolated incidents of intimidation and defacing of campaign and civic and voter education posters was observed during the campaign period.
ZESN has observed significant numbers of redirected voters in Cowdray Park. This can be attributed to the fact that there are voting centres that have more than one polling station leading to voters presenting themselves at the wrong polling stations. For instance, at Cowdray Primary AB 34 people had been redirected as at 09:40 AM while 19 people had been redirected to other polling stations at Mkhithika Thebe Primary B.
Presence of polling agents
ZESN commends the investment made by some of the contesting political parties to deploy polling agents at most of the polling stations in Cowdray Park Ward 28. From observer reports the following political parties deployed the most numbers of polling agents; ZANU PF, MDC Alliance, MDC-T, ZEFF, ZAPU and MRP.
Set up and opening of polling stations
At 100 percent of the polling stations, ZESN observers have reported that set up procedures were duly followed in line with the requirements of the law. The polling stations were set up to ensure that voters mark their ballots in secrecy. Essential voting materials such as ballot boxes, ballot papers, ZEC stamp, indelible marker ink, biometric voters’ roll with pictures were reported to be present at all polling stations. All the polling stations opened on time and had started processing voters by 7:30 AM. There is an average of 7 polling officials at the polling stations of which 5 are female.
ZESN notes that polling stations are still open and encourages all registered voters in Cowdray Park Ward 28 Local Authority to go out and exercise their right to vote peacefully. ZESN is still observing the voting process and will observe counting and results management at the end of the day.
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)