Missing ballot papers, frustration and delays mark Zanu PF polls in Byo

By Lulu Brenda Harris and Tanaka Mrewa

Voter frustration, delays and missing ballot papers characterised the Zanu PF primary elections in Bulawayo on Saturday.

Zanu PF set up 71 polling stations in Bulawayo for its primaries, however, voters had issues with the voting process, with some queueing for hours although voting was due to begin at 7 am.

A CITE news crew visited several polling stations across the city.

In Ward 9 voters were angered by the missing ballot papers for some of the candidates, describing the process as deeply flawed.

One of the candidates was spotted ordering poll officers to halt the voting process as his name and supporters’ cell structures were missing.

“My agents said you didn’t introduce each other, didn’t count the ballot papers, so who is wrong? Because of the irregularities that we have seen here, why not stop everything. I can’t fold my hands and keep quiet,” he said while some individuals continued calling on the presiding officer to address their concerns.

The presiding officer, Matate Magura told the candidate he was not supposed to be there and also complained that some agents had insulted her.

Voting began at 8.45am, according to Magura, and was going smoothly until Mabuthweni voters realised their names were not appearing on the voters roll, which caused commotion.

“I advised them to sit under the trees while I inquired from Davies Hall what happened to those cells. I was advised to continue working with information that was there,” she said, sentiments which did not go well with the Mabuthweni voters who likened the voting to a soccer match where the referee allowed one team to play on its own.

Magura had to call police officers to disperse the agitated voters from the polling station. She later informed that their names have since been located and they would be allowed to vote.

The disgruntled voters led by Clemence Muzangwa, Treasurer for Isizwe District under Mabuthweni questioned why the voting process was allowed to procees when some of the names were missing.

“We have been here since morning. I came here to vote straight from my night shift and haven’t even gone home yet. Then we discovered that our ward was separated.  It was Ward 13 but now, they bunched us with Ward 9 and the ballot information for those under Mpopoma is here but not for our preferred candidates including our voters’ roll. We were told to wait,” Muzangwa said.

“We have no problem in waiting but what we don’t understand is why the polling officers are proceeding with the voting process when they don’t have enough material. That is not fair. We don’t want to vote anymore, we would rather prefer that voting resumes on another date.”

Some polling stations had no stationery. At a polling station in Ward 12 voting had not started at 11 am.

The turnout at most polling stations was sizable, as the queues were short or non-existent while ward 1 had a high voter turnout.

Presiding Officer for Ward 17 in Pumula South, Salem Bhebhe, described the process as “smooth with people trickling in.”

Bhebhe said 30 people had voted around 12 pm and expected more party members to cast their votes before polling stations closed at 4pm.

In some stations, some voters were turned away because their names were missing from the voters’ roll.

At Whitehouse polling station, presiding officer, Kembo Ndlovu, said some had not registered to vote and just walked in.

“When officers were going around registering voters, some people didn’t bother to register while those who had registered a long time ago thought their names were still there,” Ndlovu said.

Voters at Whitehouse, were voting for the Ward 20 councillor nominee, a race which featured songstress Sandra Ndebele Sibindi and Thabo Freedom Thwala.

Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister for Bulawayo,  Judith Makwande Ncube was also in the running for the women’s quota for the Pelandaba-Tshabalala constituency.

Professor Mthuli Ncube and Raj Modi sailed through uncontested for Cowdray Park and Bulawayo South constituencies, respectively.

In Bulawayo, a total of 37 party cadres were vying to represent the party in 12 national house of assembly seats.

The senatorial constituencies have 10 candidates while the women’s quota has 15 candidates and one candidate for the youth quota.

According to the list, Bulawayo North had seven candidates, four each in Lobengula-Magwegwe and Nketa, three candidates each in Bulawayo Central, Mpopoma-Mzilikazi, Pelandaba -Tshabalala and Entumbane -Njube and two candidates in Pumula, Nkulumane and Makhandeni- Luveve.

Although voting ended at 4pm, results will be announced Sunday by Zanu PF’s National Command Centre in Harare.

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