The contest for aspiring candidates who intend to represent Zanu-PF in the forthcoming harmonised elections will continue today after most voting centres opened late due to logistical bottlenecks, which the ruling party’s national elections commission (NEC) said were due to a breakdown experienced by the company that was printing the ballot papers.
Although voting went on smoothly in some parts where material arrived on time, in others people that turned up for the internal polls went back home as voting was moved to today.
In an interview at Stodart Hall in Mbare yesterday, Zanu-PF’s NEC chairperson Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje (Retired) said an unanticipated breakdown at Jongwe Printers on Friday caused the glitch that spilled into yesterday’s primary elections.
He, however, hailed Zanu-PF supporters for voting peacefully.Though tempers flared in some constituencies, the contests, which in some cases are pitting the party’s bigwigs, were predominantly civil and violence-free.
“We had been assured by Jongwe Printers that they would be through with printing by Friday. They eventually had technical problems with their machines, which broke down, but they took long to inform us hoping that they would be fixed on time. The problems have since been dealt with,” said Lt-Gen Rugeje.
He said the logistical challenges that plagued the preparations were expected given the high number of people who have expressed an interest to represent the party.
“This election attracted interest from a lot of people and these problems are expected. Some of the problems were related to people whose names could not be found in the register. This is why we urge people to go and verify and inspect the register to avoid these problems,” he said.
The NEC, he said, had sent out a 600-member team to verify the party’s Electoral College, hence, the party did not anticipate challenges with verification of cell members.
He said voting will continue today until every eligible member who intends to vote has done so. Lt-Gen Rugeje confirmed the disqualification of Cdes James Makamba (Mount Darwin South) and Flora Boka (Gokwe Nembudziya).
In Harare West, voting started early in the morning at all polling stations.Cdes George Mashavave, Timothy Njekete , Lewis Chidzambwa, Tendai Zindoga and Akiva Makasa are vying for the seat. Similarly, voting also began early in Warren Park, where former ENG executive Cde Gilbert Muponda is facing Cdes Mian Sohal, Regina Mudarikwa and Shingai Chitaka.
Conversely, in Kuwadzana voting materials arrived late and voting began late in the afternoon.
However, elections failed to kick-off in Harare South, where Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) spokesperson Cde Douglas Mahiya headlines a cast of 10 other aspiring candidates for the House of Assembly seat.
Voting in Mashonaland West province failed to start at 7am as scheduled and by late afternoon, voting had only begun at few polling stations, especially in urban and peri-urban constituencies.
At least 364 polling stations have been identified across the province where 120 candidates are vying for the 22 House of Assembly seats.
Ballot material arrived at the provincial party offices in Chinhoyi at around 9am and distribution followed thereafter to the seven administrative districts, starting with Kariba and Hurungwe. Voters failed to cast their votes in five of the contested wards in Kariba Urban and the exercise was subsequently rolled over to today.
Some party members demonstrated at the party’s provincial offices against allegations of manipulation of cell structures by some candidates. Furthermore, some candidates reportedly failed to find their names on the ballot paper.
For some constituencies close to the national party headquarters, the ballot paper was recalled and corrected ones were dispatched to the affected constituencies.
In Norton, where Politburo member Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa is facing Cde Lameck Mutendereki, tempers flared as the aspiring candidates debated on whether to proceed with the elections or not, as the voting material had arrived a few minutes before closing time.
Ambassador Mutsvangwa said the challenges needed to be resolved urgently. “Things should not go on like this. We hope things can be sorted out. It’s too late to have election here, there are no lights. It’s already dark,” he said.
It is estimated that Norton has more than 30 000 people, with 15 polling stations in urban constituencies.
In Masvingo voting centres were swarmed by a sea of voters but a shortage of voting materials and missing names for aspiring candidates proved to be a damper to the voting process.
In Mashonaland West voting failed to take place in Mt Darwin, Mbire and Guruve. Provincial elections coordinator Brigadier-General Etherton Shungu (Retired) confirmed the late arrival of the ballot papers and the postponement of the elections.
“The elections were affected by the late arrival of ballot papers from Harare, but the reports we got showed that everything was going on well in most areas,” he said.
Cde Makamba, who has been reportedly disqualified was at the district command centre at Mt Darwin Government Complex.
“I can only comment after seeing the ballot paper to ascertain whether my name is there or not,” he said.
Mt Darwin South had a record 20 candidates, including Cde Makamba, who are vying for the seat.
Voting in Shamva North and South is expected to begin today.
In Mashonaland East thousands of people had thronged polling stations in the morning when voting was expected to start but dispersed in the afternoon.
Our Harare Bureau visited Murehwa North and South, Goromonzi and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe where voting failed to take off. Ballots and other voting material arrived around 4pm.
Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Cde Biggie Matiza, however, said voting will begin today.
“Voting will commence tomorrow morning and end at 1pm in the province. We believe tomorrow we would have sorted voting material distribution,” he said.