High turnout as Zimbabwe votes

0
19

Voter turnout is high in Zimbabwe’s first general election since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted, officials say.

Foreign observers have hailed the election as an opportunity for Zimbabwe to break with its repressive past.

The presidential election is expected to be a tight contest between the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa and his main rival Nelson Chamisa.

Parliamentary and local elections are also taking place on Monday.

Opinion polls give Mnangagwa, who heads the ruling Zanu-PF party, a narrow lead over Chamisa, who leads the MDC Alliance.

Both leaders are running for the presidency for the first time.

On Sunday, Mugabe, who first came to power after independence in 1980, said he would not vote for his successor.

Mugabe, regarded as one of the last “Big Men” of African politics, was forced out of office last November by Mnangagwa with the help of the military.

In Domboshawa village, about an hour’s car ride north of the capital, Harare, many had been in the queue even before sunrise.

The first group of voters were mainly elderly people but there were some youngsters too.

A local primary school has been converted into a polling station for the landmark election.

Crowds whistled and broke into chants of “Chamisa” when the 40-year-old MDC leader cast his ballot on the outskirts of Harare, amidst a media scrum.

“We will win this election to the extent it’s free and fair… it’s a done deal,” he told the BBC.

In contrast, Mnangagwa, thought to be 75, voted in a quiet polling station at a school in the central city of Kwekwe.

At one stage, he was seen taking his head out of the voting booth to check where he should put his cross on the ballot.

He tweeted that Zimbabweans should vote with “peace in our hearts”. “We will sink or swim together,” he added.

The country is expecting a high turnout of first-time voters.

Younger voters are expected to be key – almost half of those registered are under the age of 35.

Hundreds of international observers have been deployed to ensure the vote goes smoothly, but the opposition has repeatedly alleged irregularities in the voter roll.

They have also expressed concern over the security of ballot papers and voter intimidation in mainly rural areas.

However, the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) insists that it has acted within the law, and will deliver a credible poll.

Zec head Priscilla Chigumba said 90 perdcent of polling stations had opened on time.

“The voter turnout is high and we are confident that by 7pm [local time] we would have completed the voting process at all polling stations,” she added./BBC

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here