via ZESN observes local authority by- elections | The Zimbabwean by ZESN 21.10.13
On Saturday the 19th of October 2013, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observed the Gokwe South Ward 11 and Victoria Falls Ward 9 local authority by-elections which were conducted in a generally peaceful manner.
The two seats fell vacant after the death of the two councilors elected on the 31st of July 2013 harmonised elections. ZESN deployed 9 accredited observers in both wards to observe the opening, voting, closing and counting procedures.
The observers reported that in all the polling stations, critical election materials such as ballot papers, the voters roll and other essentials for the election arrived on time. In addition, all polling stations opened on time and voting took place in a calm and peaceful manner. ZESN observers did not report any incidents during voting and counting of ballot papers. However in Gokwe South outside a polling station which was located at Tare Primary School, ZESN observers reported a case of a village head who was threatening voters with unspecified action if they did not vote.
In addition, ZESN observers in Gokwe South Ward 11 observed some people being turned away as their names could not be found on the voters’roll. Some of the voters who were turned away were surprised as they claimed they had voted in the July 2013 harmonised elections at the same polling station and in the same ward. These are a few of the incidents that ZESN observers noted in the two by-elections.
ZESN commends the polling officials for following all election procedures that includes, showing ballot boxes to party agents and observers, crossing names in the voters’, confirmation of results by party agents through affixing of signatures on the V11 form and posting of results outside the polling stations.
ZESN appreciates the decentralization of accreditation to centres near the places were elections were to be held. ZESN observers in Gokwe were accredited at Gokwe Centre Government Complex while in Victoria Falls they were accredited at Victoria Falls Municipality Council Offices.
In Victoria Falls Ward 9 MDC T won by a small margin while in Gokwe South Ward 11 ZANU PF won by a fairly huge margin. The results of the by-elections show that ZANU PF and the MDC-T have maintained dominance in rural and urban areas respectively. ZESN remains concerned by the high numbers of turned away and assisted voters that were recorded in the two by-elections particularly in Gokwe South