ZimRights expresses concern over moving of polling stations
Africa / 30 July 2018, 6:59pm / Barnabas Thondhlana
HARARE - Political parties and human rights organisations on Monday raised a red flag over the ongoing voting in Zimbabwe, alleging there is a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate urban voters.
Opposition MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa expressed his concerns on Twitter after casting his vote in Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb.
“There seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate the urban vote,” Chamisa said.
”There is a good turnout but the people’s will (is) being negated and undermined due to these deliberate and unnecessary delays.”
Traditionally, the vote in Zimbabwe’s major cities largely favours the opposition, while rural areas back the ruling ZANU PF party led by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Fears are that potential voters in urban areas were being deliberately frustrated as a means of discouraging them from voting.
Human rights organisation ZimRights said some polling stations had been moved from their original locations without people being aware of the changes.
The changes have caused confusion in some areas such as polling stations in Epworth, Glenview and Harare West constituencies.
“Because of the confusion, many people have been disenfranchised by the polling stations movement with some people still missing their names at the nearest polling stations,” Zimrights director Okay Machisa said.
“There are also people who have been turned away because their names were said to be on the exclusion list.”
Machisa said cases of political party candidates and community leaders writing the names of people who came to vote had been recorded in some areas.
“This was being done ostensibly to see their supporters, who will benefit from future programs.”
In the past, such practices have been associated with intimidation of voters, including denying those suspected to be against the candidates in social welfare assistance after the elections, including politicisation of food aid.
But Zimbabwe Electoral Commission spokesman said people standing in queues when polls close at 7 pm will be allowed to vote.
The electoral commission says the turnout is high and voting has been peaceful, a contrast to the violence seen in past votes under former leader Robert Mugabe’s nearly four-decade rule.
There are more than 10,000 voting booths which are being monitored by about 71,000 police officers. International observers have spread themselves across the country.
This is the first election without Mugabe on the ballot.