The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has deployed 8 static observers in Chitungwiza Ward 7, Mutare Ward 14 & 16, Rusape Ward 5, Pfura Ward 40, Kariba Ward 3, 4 & 8 as well as observers at the Ward Collation Centres in the local authority by-election. The by-election is being held in accordance with Section 121 A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) following the death of the incumbent Pfura Ward 40 Councillor Doniah Jeke and the recalls of Mutare Mayor Blessing Tandi of Ward 14; Chitungwiza Mayor Lovemore Maiko of Ward 7; Kariba Mayor George Masendu of Ward 4; Councillors Farai Magevha of Ward 3 and Pedzisai Munhuweyi of Ward 8 and Mutare Ward 16 Councillor Sekai Catherine Mukodza; who were elected under the MDC Alliance Party were recalled from their respective local authorities and are contesting in the by-election under the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Party.
The Nomination Court sat on Wednesday 16 March 2022 to receive nominations of prospective candidates to fill the local authority seat vacancies in Rusape Town Council and Mutare Municipality Ward 14. Three candidates, Brighton Manhuhwa of ZANU-PF, Munyaradzi Nyampigoti of the MDC Alliance and Lyton Sithole of the CCC were duly nominated for election as councillors for Rusape Ward 5 at the close of sitting of the Nomination Court. Patrick Masenyama of the CCC, Jonah Wellington Moyo of ZANU-PF and Njabulo Nyathi of the MDC Alliance were dully nominated for election as councillors for Mutare Ward 14. The Nomination Court sat on Thursday 2022 to receive nominations for Ward 7 Chitungwiza, Ward 16 Mutare at the respective Town Clerk Offices and at Pfura Rural District Council Chief Executive Offices for Ward 40 nominations. At the close of the sitting, Lovemore Maiko of the CCC, Charamba Mlambo of the ZANU-PF and Bothwell Patsika of the MDC Alliance had been duly nominated as candidates for Chitungwiza Ward 7. Tsverukai Madzokere (Female) of the MDC Alliance, Sekai Catherine Mukodza (Female) of the CCC and Webster Mudzimwa of ZANU-PF were duly nominated for Ward 16 Mutare. Candidates that were duly nominated as candidates for Pfura RDC are Gift Madziva of the ZANU-PF and Tobias Samuel of the CCC.
As of midday, the political environment in the respective Wards has been reported to be peaceful. No incidents had been observed and reported during the polling process so far.
Displaying of the voters’ roll
ZESN observers reported that the voters’ rolls are displayed outside the polling stations to allow voters to check their names before polling day.
Set up and opening of polling stations
The eight polling stations were opened on time and all the essential polling materials such as ballot boxes, ballot papers, indelible finger markers, voters’ roll, the ZEC official stamp, were available at all polling stations observed.
Each of the polling stations was manned by an average of six polling officers at the time of opening. At five of the eight polling stations observed, the Presiding officers were reported to be female.
Voting process and procedures
At both polling stations, ZESN observers reported that voting is proceeding well, with all polling procedures being duly followed in accordance with the law.
All contesting parties; ZANU-PF, CCC and the MDC Alliance deployed their party agents to track the polling process at all the polling stations where their candidates are contesting in the by-election.
A few voters had been assisted to vote on account of illiteracy and visual impairment as of midday. For instance, about three voters had been assisted to vote at Nyanhewe Primary School Polling Station in Kariba Ward 3 by 11:00 hours and about eight had been assisted at Tangenhamo Primary School in Chitungwiza Ward 7 around the same time.
Turned away and redirected voters
Some people were turned away either because their names were not on the voters’ roll or they could not produce valid identification documents. As of 11:00 hours, about 11 people had been turned away at Nyanhewe Primary School polling station for presenting driver’s licence instead of an acceptable Identification Document (ID) card, showing up at the wrong polling station and others were not in the voter’s roll. At Rujeko Primary (Ward 5) polling station in Rusape, 12 people were turned away for the same reasons.
ZESN observers have reported that around 11:00 hours, most of the voters who were turning up to vote were males.
Voting continues until 1900 hours in the evening. ZESN will continue to observe and issue updates and an end of day statement as well as a report of the by-election with its recommendations.