In line with its mission to promote democratic electoral processes in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is observing the Kadoma Central Ward 2 by-election. ZESN deployed a long term observer who observed in the pre-election period and will continue to observe in the post-election period. To observe the Election Day processes, ZESN has deployed five trained observers to cover all polling stations, and a ward collation centre observer. In addition, ZESN has one mobile team assessing the political environment around the Ward. This statement is based on Election Day observations made by ZESN observers so far.
The political environment has so far been peaceful and calm without any observed incident or malpractice.
Set up and opening of polling stations
All the polling stations are at Rimuka Government Secondary School and they opened on time. The set up procedures were duly followed. At the time of opening, three polling stations had seven polling officers, five of whom were female at one of the polling stations and three were female at the other. The other two polling stations had six polling officers, four of whom were female at one polling station and three at the other. Out of the 5 polling stations, only one station has a female presiding officer. At all the polling stations, ballot booths were set up in a manner that ensures that voters mark their ballots in secrecy. All ZESN observers reported that essential voting materials such as ballot boxes, ballot papers, ZEC stamp, indelible marker ink, biometric voters’ roll with pictures were available at the polling stations.
As of midday, voter turnout had been observed to be moderate, compared to ZESN’s observations made in other local authority by-elections held after the harmonised elections. The highest figure that had been recorded as of midday was slightly above 200 who had cast their ballot at polling station 1CA.
ZESN has so far not observed high numbers of assisted voters. The few voters who have been assisted to vote are the elderly and visually impaired.
ZESN has observed instances of voters being redirected to other polling stations. ZESN commends the Commission for assigning a special usher directing voters to polling stations from the entrance to the school. However, the Commission should do more to ensure that voters know the exact polling stations they are supposed to vote at.
Not many voters have so far been turned away with the highest recorded so far being 10 at polling station 1A. These people were turned away for turning up intending to vote when they are not resident in Ward 2 and are therefore not registered to vote at polling stations in the Ward.
Presence of polling agents
ZESN commends both political parties, ZANU-PF and the MDC Alliance, for deploying party agents to all the five polling stations in this by-election. This allow political parties and candidates to track the election processes so that they satisfy themselves through their own observation of the process.
Youth participation in the by-election
Compared to other by-elections that have been held after the 2018 harmonised elections, ZESN has so far observed a relatively higher turnout of youths in the Kadoma Central Ward 2 by-election. For instance, 60% (102) of those who had voted as of midday at polling station 1A were youths. This is commendable as, in the interest of promoting democratic electoral processes, ZESN has been calling for the participation in electoral processes of youths who constitute a largest percentage of the electorate by age groups. However, this needs not be isolated by general in all elections and the participation of youths as candidates still has to improve.
ZESN encourages all registered voters in Kadoma central to go out and exercise their to vote in the by election notes that polling stations are still open and encourages all registered voters in Kadoma Central Ward 2 to go out and exercise their right to vote in peace. ZESN is still observing the voting process and will observe counting and results management at the end of polling.
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)