The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has commended the smooth flow and tranquil environment which characterised the recently held Bulilima by-elections.
Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) won two seats in the Bulilima Ward 1 and Ward 16 while ZANU-PF won a seat in the Bulilima Ward 14 by-election.
In its preliminary report, ZESN said the political environment in the Wards was reported to be peaceful and tranquil with no incidents of violence or intimidation reported on polling day.
The report further stated that polling procedures were duly followed in accordance with the law.
“Ballot papers were stamped with an official ZEC stamp before being issued to voters. In view of the topical global COVID-19pandemic, ZESN commends ZEC for putting in place preventative measures for voters, polling officials, political party agents and observers, such as hand sanitisers or water and soap to wash hands as well as ensuring that voters wore masks and maintained social distancing,” ZESN stated.
Prior to the setting up of polling stations, the report said, voters’ rolls were displayed outside to enable the electorate to check their names, good practice from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that hypothetically serves to lessen the numbers of redirected and turned away voters on polling day.
“ZESN observers reported that the polling stations were opened on time with all the essential polling materials such as ballot boxes, ballot papers, indelible finger markers, voters’ roll and the ZEC official stamps available,” the report reads.
ZESN reported an influx of assisted voters.
“For example, at Mathambo Primary School polling station, five people were assisted to vote (one male and four females) while 31 people were assisted at Malalume Secondary School and 11 people were assisted to vote at Sikhathini Secondary School polling station due to illiteracy and visual impairment,” ZESN stated.
There were also reports of turned-away voters at the observed polling stations and most of those were not on the voters’ rolls as they were registered voters in other Wards.
“For example, by end of polling, about 52 people had been turned away because their names were not on the voters’ roll.”
The election watchdog, however, recommended that ZEC, CSOs, and political parties should do more civic and voter education to encourage voters to vote in municipal by-elections