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Zim’s by-elections marred by irregularities

A local election board has revealed that the recently held by-elections were marred with irregularities with voter intimidation and voter apathy being cited as the major irregularities.

These irregularities were revealed by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), day after the by-elections which the main opposition, MDC-T boycotted while calling for electoral reforms.

Addressing journalists at a press conference held in the capital today Irene Petras, ZESN Chairperson said that the recently held by elections were characterised by voter intimidation and voter apathy.

“ZESN observed intimidation of voters at various polling stations. Reports from observers indicated that in a number of constituencies, suspected ZANU PF officials and village heads were recording the details of voters before they arrived at a polling station and after the voter had cast their vote, “Petras, told reporters.

“These reports came from observers in the following areas: Tsholotsho (Zabagwuadi Business Centre), Headlands (Nehumba Primary School) and Hurungwe West (Murapa Primary School).  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,” said Petras as she read ZESN press statement.

Apart from voter intimidation ZESN said, “There was voter apathy in the urban constituencies as compared to the rural constituencies. The low turnout could be attributed to the fact that the by-elections were held on a working day.”

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Meanwhile ZESN also revealed that, “In 90% of the polling stations police were present inside the polling station. ZESN observers witnessed Police Personnel being actively involved in assisting voters. This practice goes against international best norms and standards where the role of the police is limited to maintaining law and order.”

According to ZESN the heavy police presence inside and outside the polling stations may intimidate voters.

Zanu-PF has pocketed all the 16 contested constituencies in the parliamentary by-elections which attracted more than 100 parliamentary candidates.

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Journalist based in Harare

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