Saturday, June 28, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: Run-off Ends Peacefully

Run-off ends peacefully

Herald Reporters/Ziana

THE presidential run-off poll contested by President Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T closed peacefully yesterday evening with massive voter turnout recorded in most parts of the country.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started counting the votes when polling closed and said results would be released as they come.

"We will announce the results as they come at constituency level and we hope to start tomorrow (today)," ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations) Mr Utloile Silaigwana said.

Police confirmed that peace and tranquillity prevailed throughout the country with chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena urging the electorate to remain calm.

"We did not get any negative reports and the situation was calm," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

He, however, urged the voters to return home after casting their ballots and wait for the announcement of the results by ZEC.

In Harare South constituency, hundreds of voters had by 5am queued at various polling stations, with the biggest number at Ushewokunze Housing Co-operative where more than 550 people were waiting to cast their votes around mid-day.

Some of the voters who had been queuing for long hours said ZEC should have put more polling stations at Ushewokunze to speed up the process.

At Gazaland Technology Centre, Shirichena Primary School, Western Triangle Bus Terminus and Canaan Bus Terminus in Highfield, long queues had formed as early as 7am.

The situation was the same at Zuva Rabuda Primary School in Glen Norah and in Mbare’s Number Five and Seven grounds, where a heavy presence of police officers was evident.

Voting started peacefully but on a slow note in Kambuzuma, Warren Park, Kuwadzana and Norton with scores of people trickling in throughout the day.

At Kuwadzana Community Centre, a queue of about 30 metres had formed by mid-afternoon while in Norton a large number of people voted in the morning.

The presiding officer at Nyamunda polling station in Katanga said they were busy in the morning as a large number of people turned up to vote but the number decreased as the day progressed.

In Kuwadzana, Warren Park and Kambuzuma, few voters trickled in to cast their ballots by the close of polling station at 7pm.

Voters in Goromonzi North, South and West had as early as 7am formed long queues which could still be seen at mid-day.

The biggest turnout was at Chinamhora Hall in Goromonzi West where about 400 voters had cast their ballots by noon.

A small number was turned away at Arcturus, Goromonzi and Ruwa as well as at Groombridge and Hellenic primary schools in Harare East for lack of proper documentation or because they were aliens.

Some of those turned away had brought drivers’ licences or photocopies of national identity cards that were not recognised in the presidential run-off.

Others were turned away after it emerged they had already cast their votes through postal ballot or did not appear on the voters’ roll.

In Mt Pleasant and Harare East, voters had queued as early as 6.30am.

In Seke and Chitungwiza, most polling stations had received more than 100 voters by 10.00am in a peaceful atmosphere.

A ZEC official at St Eden’s Primary School polling station in Chitungwiza described the process as slow in comparison to the March 29 harmonised election where people had queued as early as 2am.

By end of day, more than 470 people had cast their votes at Chigunguru makeshift polling station in Zengeza West compared to about 3 000 in the March poll.

In Wedza, where turnout was low, groups of villagers were seen at polling stations waiting patiently to cast their votes as the process progressed smoothly.

However, some villagers who had travelled all the way from Harare to cast their votes failed to do so when their names were not found on the voters’ roll.

The voter turnout in Bindura was described by presiding officers as "just slightly lower than that recorded in the March harmonised elections" while others said there was no difference.

Mr Frank Nyama, an election officer at Chipadze Primary School polling station, said the numbers were almost the same as those recorded in March.

He said a total of 210 people had cast their votes by 10am.

At another polling station in the town centre, 370 people had cast their vote by 4.30pm while at other stations the figures varied between 75 and 120.

"Voting has been moving on well," said Mr Grasian Zviazia, a polling officer at Chipindura High School.

Vice President Joice Mujuru cast her vote at Madzivanzira Open Space polling station in Dotito, Mt Darwin, around 1.30pm.

Cde Mujuru said the presidential run-off was very vital in the history of Zimbabwe because it showed the nation’s commitment to defending the land.

She encouraged Zimbabweans to remain steadfast and support President Mugabe who had remained steadfast in preserving the country’s independence and sovereignty.

One ailing voter had to be ferried in a wheelbarrow to Chihoko polling station while at Kandeya Business Centre and Chihoko polling stations 109 and 172 people had cast their votes by 9.30am.

More than 200 people braved the cold weather in Marondera to cast their ballots at Dombotombo Hall polling station where they had queued as early 6am.

Mr Jorum Tapfuma, the presiding officer at the polling station, said they had started late because they were processing postal ballots.

The processing, Mr Tapfuma said, involved crossing out from the voters’ roll people who had voted by postal ballot.

But voting at Rugare Street Market polling station and Ruware Primary School, where about 50 people had cast their ballots within an hour of the opening of the polling station, commenced as scheduled at 7am.

Ms Eunice Ndoro, a presiding officer at Mbuya Nehanda Hall, said voting proceeded without any hiccups.

A team of Sadc observers kept a presence in Marondera Central constituency that had 30 polling stations.

A representative of the team said they had observed proceedings at 10 polling stations between 7am and 8am and had witnessed no incidents of violence.

By noon, officials said 700 people had cast their votes at three polling stations while 176 had been turned away because they did not have the required documents.

A presiding officer at Rimuka Light Industrial polling station, Mr Isaac Denhere, said that by 11.05am, 226 people had cast their votes.

At Rimuka Hall in ward 7, presiding officer Mr Emmanuel Kwenda said 217 people had voted by 11.15am.

A slightly higher figure of 245 people had cast their ballots before noon at Lady Tait Primary School in ward 12.

No incidents of violence were reported in and around Kadoma where police had been deployed in large numbers.

There was a slow start in Chegutu where a presiding officer at Mutowa polling station said 64 people had cast their votes by 9.30am.

The polling officer, however, said high turnout was expected in the afternoon.

Eight people whose names were not on the voters’ roll were turned away at Mutowa polling station.

Ms Joyce Mhondiwa, the presiding officer at another polling station in Chegutu, said no one had been turned away but she declined to say how many people had voted by mid-morning at the centre.

Three-hundred people had voted in Mhangura at Doma Primary School by 2pm while 70 had been turned away.

About 140 people had turned up to vote at Muchiedza Primary School in Mande by 10am while 34 people had been assisted to vote.

At close of business, more than 500 people had voted at Charles Clark Primary School in Magunje.

Presiding officer Mr Julius Homera said 100 people were turned away.

In Ngezi, more than 400 people had voted by 3.30pm while 90 had been turned away for lack of required identity documents or their names were not on the voters’ roll.

Rusape witnessed a smooth start with the presiding officer at Kature Business Centre, Mr Sitshengiso Manyenya, saying 312 of 1 692 registered voters having cast their ballots by mid-day.

Polling stations at Vhengere and St Luke’s primary schools recorded a high voter turnout in the morning with a handful coming in the afternoon.

Mr Charles Mazambani, who presided at St Luke’s, said 376 people out of 2 709 registered voters in the constituency had visited the polling station by 2 pm.

Most polling centres in Masvingo Rural had long queues as early as 6am while in urban areas the turnout was low as seen at Mucheke High School and Yeukai Crèche in the sprawling Mucheke suburb.

A record turnout was at Sikato Primary School in Nemanwa just outside Masvingo town and another bumper crowd was at Chirichoga Secondary School in Masvingo Central.

At Chirichoga Secondary School, people complained of waiting for too long in queues because of the slow voting process as a result of the high turnout.

That was the same scenario at Vuranda Business Centre in Madamombe communal lands in Chivi where scores of people waited for long hours before having their turn to vote.

Another huge turnout was at Bvute Primary School where Chivi-Mwenezi Senator-elect and former Masvingo Governor Cde Josaya Hungwe cast his vote.

Cde Hungwe — buoyed by the huge crowd — declared that the high turnout in the run-off was a victory for the people of Zimbabwe.

"This is a clear victory for Zanu-PF and the people of Zimbabwe. The people have spoken and their will should be respected," said Cde Hungwe soon after casting his vote.

In Gutu, Bikita and Zaka, the voting process was smooth and thousands of people turned up to cast their ballots in a peaceful atmosphere.

Acting officer commanding police in Masvingo Assistant Commissioner Mekia Tanyanyiwa said there had not been any incidents of violence.

The police were, however, on high alert in case the situation went changed.

Beitbridge town polling stations opened with small queues forming outside while rural Beitbridge recorded a relatively high turnout.

Rural areas visited had by noon seen an average of 400 voters with a number of people turned away because their names did not appear on the voters’ roll while some had gone to wrong wards.

In Malala, Tongwe, Chicago, Tshapfuche, Makhakhavhule, Shabwe, Lutumba and Dumba, people came in small groups of about six and by 10am 168 people had voted at Beitbridge Mission Primary School.

Some election officers said they expected the numbers to peak by the end of the day.

Traffic was also low at the border post as very few traveLlers were coming into the country.

The polling stations at Nkayi Centre and other surrounding areas opened at 7am with more than 700 people casting their ballot by 9am.

Presiding officer Mrs Grace Ngwenya said 15 people had been turned away for various reasons, including not having proper identification documents and having come to a wrong ward.

Long queues were the order of the day at Nkayi with most of the voters saying they could not wait to exercise their votes to choose a president of their choice.

In Kwekwe, the biggest turnout was at Chana Primary School polling station in Mbizo ward 16 where about 500 people had cast their ballots by 2pm while in Amaveni ward 8, 600 voters had been processed by 3pm.

Although the turnout in Gweru, Shurugwi and Lower Gweru was low, Tongogara Growth Point in Shurugwi recorded a higher turnout with voters in Mkoba trickling in throughout the day while the polling station at the District Administrator’s office in the city centre was deserted.

Mberengwa, Zvishavane and Insiza district in neighbouring Matabeleland South Province saw a huge number of people casting their votes.

At Nyaradzayi Hall in Maglas Township, Zvishavane, there was 50-metre-long queue while at Oasis Business Centre another long, winding queue of voters had formed as early as 6am.

High figures were also recorded at Gwatemba, Amazon and Wanezi polling stations in Insiza and at Gwarenyama, Msume, Marirazhombe and Chizungu in Mberengwa. — Herald Reporters/Ziana.

AU resists attempts to lambast Zim over polls

Herald Reporter/AFP.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt. The African Union yesterday resisted attempts by some members to lambast Zimbabwe saying it would wait for the outcome of the presidential run-off and was confident a solution will be found to the Zimbabwean issue.

Reports from Egypt said AU foreign ministers bickered behind closed doors yesterday over how to handle Zimbabwe but AU commission chairman Jean Ping urged the ministers to leave the issue to heads of state and governments who begin meeting on Monday.

"On the Zimbabwe problem, I am convinced a credible solution will be found. Give us the time to talk with our heads of state, with the Sadc," the Southern African Development Community, Ping told a news conference.

"I firmly believe there is a way out and that our credibility will be maintained," he added.

On Thursday President Mugabe warned that no country including those in the AU and Sadc could dictate to Zimbabwe how to hold its elections.

Winding up his campaign, Cde Mugabe said he would challenge his AU colleagues at the summit about their elections because they could not accuse Zimbabwe of poorly running its elections.

He said some African countries have had worse elections marred by worse levels of violence than those in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean delegation asked to be able to address the meeting without any subsequent debate, but other AU members insisted they wanted a full discussion.

"We are waiting for the summit for the heads of state to make important declarations on Zimbabwe," Ping told the opening session in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in his only direct reference to Zimbabwe.

The session was preceded by a "breakfast meeting among member states of the Southern African Development Community under Angolan chairmanship." Angola chairs the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

After the opening session, Ping held a 15-minute separate meeting with the Zimbabwean delegation.

During a closed-door session Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi then asked to be allowed to make a statement without being followed by any debate, drawing strong opposition from other members including Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone, a delegate said.

"After a discussion lasting more than an hour and a half, these governments insisted that they wanted to hold a debate and to hear from Sadc," the delegate said. — Herald Reporter/AFP.

Tsvangirai confirms US, UK’s regime change agenda

Herald Reporter

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday confirmed some African leaders were working with his party, Britain and the United States to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.

He made the confirmation hardly a day after President Mugabe warned some African countries not to be used by Britain and its Western allies in the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe said some African countries, including those in Sadc were issuing reckless statements to discredit yesterday’s presidential election run-off saying other countries’ elections were held in worse conditions than in Zimbabwe.

"I am heartened by the fact that some African leaders are now working with the MDC towards finding a lasting solution to the Zimbabwe crisis," Tsvangirai told journalists, observers and diplomats after emerging from his hideout at the Dutch embassy for the second time in two days.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been putting pressure on some African leaders, notably Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa, to put their foot down on Zimbabwe.

Mwanawasa recently admitted to succumbing to such pressure when he announced a Sadc summit through the western media to discuss Zimbabwe’s elections, which had still not been concluded.

The presidential election run-off went ahead yesterday after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ruled that Tsvangirai’s purported withdrawal had among other reasons, been filed out of time.

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