The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has deployed observers at the two polling stations and the Ward Collation Centre in the Chiredzi Rural District Council Ward 12 by-election. The by-election is being held in accordance with section 121A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) following the resignation of the previous councillor, Cllr Andrew Ndebele, of the ZANU-PF party who was elected in the July 31 2018 harmonised elections.
The Nomination Court sat on Wednesday 25 September 2019 to consider applications from prospective candidates to fill the local authority seat vacancy. At the close of nomination, two candidates were dully nominated; Mazhata John of the MDC Alliance and Rukanda Arnold of ZANU-PF.
There are two polling stations in the by-election, namely Farm 26 Church and Zhou Primary. This midday Situational Statement is based on reports received from ZESN observers. By midday, the following observations had been made:
As of midday, the political environment had been reported to be peaceful, without any incidents observed, which is in keeping with observer reports received during the pre-election period.
Set up and opening of polling stations
ZESN observers reported that both polling stations opened on time with all essential polling materials including ballot boxes, ballot papers, indelible finger markers, voters’ roll, the ZEC official stamp, available.
Voting process and procedures
As of midday, ZESN observers had reported that voting had been proceeding well, with all polling procedures being duly followed.
It is commendable that election agents for both parties were present at both polling stations. This affords political parties first hand observation of the polling process and assists parties to raise credible objections whenever they have them as well as appraising themselves of the extent to which the conduct of the by-election adheres to set procedure and guidelines.
Only a few voters had been assisted to vote as at midday on account of visual impairment and old age. For instance, five voters had been assisted to vote as at 0941 hours at Zhou Primary Polling Station and only two had been assisted around 1100 hours at Farm 26 Church polling station.
Turned away and redirected voters
Even though the voters’ roll was displayed outside the polling stations three days before polling, there were some voters, albeit few who had been turned away because their names were not in the voters’ roll while others brought inappropriate identification documents, such as an expired passport. For example, only four had been turned away at Zhou Primary School by 0952 hours and none Farm 26 Church polling station. Similarly, as few as five voters had been redirected, particularly from Farm 26 Church polling station to Zhou Primary School polling station around 1100 hours.
Indications are that there will be a very high turnout for this by-election because as of midday over 50% of the registered voters had cast their votes.
ZESN will continue to observe polling right up to the closing of polling stations and counting and collation of votes. The network will also release a statement and a report of the by-election with its recommendations.
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)