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Low voter turn-out mars by-elections

Low voter turnout has marred the ongoing by-elections amid the opposition concerns of high number of voters being turned away due to missing names in the voters roll.

Despite a relatively peaceful atmosphere across the country, low number of voters have been recorded at most centres.

By midday, ZEC reported that  5530 people had voted in Bulawayo Province, 4899 in Masvingo, 15886 in Midlands and 2442 in Manicaland.

The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Spokesperson Fadzai Mahere confirmed the low voter turnout but noted an improvement as compared to previous by-elections.

“We have reports that all polling stations were congested so we had a very decent turnout, in fact our statistics show that this is the highest turnout for a by-election,” said Mahere.

She, however, bemoaned the high number of people turned away due to missing names on the voters roll, accusing ZEC of unilaterally changing names of voters from their voting centres.

“A number of people are getting turned away because their names are not appearing on the voters roll even though their names appeared and these are polling stations they went to in 2018. That is concerning because every citizen has the right to vote and that right can’t be taken away unilaterally

“ZEC must explain what process it used to remove citizens from their polling station,” said Mahere.

However, Zanu PF Director of Information, Tafadzwa Mugwadi said voting had started well across the country while applauding ZEC for doing its work independently and diligently.

“The process of voting has started on well across the country and we want to applaud the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for sterling work, remember this voting is sparse and we are having voting taking place areas like Binga North and we are satisfied that ZEC has been able to deliver voting material within time, that is indeed an indication that the electoral body is doing its work independently and diligently,” said Mugwadi.

Advocacy group, the Elections Resource Centre (ERC) attributed the low voter turnout to the turning away of voters due to missing names and general apathy.

“Voter turnout is really low and in areas such as Nkulumane constituency, our observers reported very low turnout,” said Barbra Dube, ERC Director.

She said the low turnout could be attributed to a number of factors key among them voters being turned away, voter apathy and early closure of the voters roll.

“Some areas, there are reports of a lot of voters being turned away as their polling stations will have been changed. Another issue is the general voter apathy

“Another factor is the fact that the voting day was not declared a public holiday and this meant that some people chose to chase bread and butter issues, I have been moving around Harare and I observed that its business as usual in most areas,” said Dube.