Zanu PF was accused of intimidating voters in Tsholotsho North by recording their names while Bulawayo residents largely heeded the call to boycott yesterday’s parliamentary by-elections.
BY STAFF REPORTERS
Tsholotsho North and five constituencies in Bulawayo were the centre of attraction in the region as the country held 16 by-elections to fill seats left vacant after MDC-T recalled rebel MPs early this year.
Headlands and Hurungwe West were also up for grabs after Zanu PF fired its secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and his nephew Temba Mliswa.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo was contesting against two lightweight independent candidates Busani Ncube and Getrude Sibanda for the seat left vacant by Roselyn Nkomo (MDC Renewal).
Moyo was expected to romp to victory after an elaborate campaign against candidates that remained invisible in the run-up to the polls, but observers said this did not stop Zanu PF from resorting to unorthodox means.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), which deployed observers in most of the constituencies, said in Tsholotsho and Headlands voters were forced to register their names by Zanu PF officials outside polling stations.
“Zesn has received numerous reports that Zanu PF officials in different constituencies were asking voters to register their names and identity particulars before they go and cast their vote,” Zesn said in a statement.
“It has also been reported that after casting their votes, voters were being asked to pass through the same registration centres to confirm that they have voted.
“The practice violates Section 133B (c) (1) of the Electoral Act, which outlaws any attempts to compel voters to vote for a particular candidate or party.”
At Zabagwadi in Ward 6, Zanu PF election committee member Japhet Nkomo was chased away by police after he was spotted marking a register of all people emerging from the polling station.
Tsholotsho North also had a huge number of assisted voters.
At Mkwizhu Primary School, the presiding officer ran out of stationery to record the people that were turned away.
Meanwhile, in Bulawayo most polling stations in Makokoba, Luveve, Pumula, Lobengula-Magwegwe and Pelandaba-Mpopoma had received very few voters by lunch time.
Polling officers spent most of the day basking in the sun as voters trickled in.
By lunchtime, the Stanley Hall polling station had the largest turnout with 256 voters.
A number of people had been turned away for not appearing on the voters’ roll or not having national identity particulars.
Some potential voters who spoke to Southern Eye said they saw no reason to vote in the by-elections.
“There is absolutely no reason for me and the rest of the people to vote.
“That will never change my life,” Dumisani Maphosa of Pumula said.
“We have been voting for several years and people that are voted into office just desert us only to surface in the next election.”
Others said they were undecided on which candidates to vote for after the MDC formations boycotted the polls demanding poll reforms.
Sithabile Moyo of Luveve said she was worried that if Zanu PF candidate Ntandoyenkosi Mlilo lost, major road rehabilitation projects spearheaded by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko would stop.
“Our roads are currently being rehabilitated and we know once Mlilo loses, that will just stop,” Moyo said.
“I don’t want Zanu PF to win a single seat, but their projects are too tempting to ignore.”
MDC formations are demanding electoral reforms saying the playing field is not level, but Zanu PF remains unmoved by the protests.