Sunday Mail Reporters
VOTERS yesterday turned out in huge numbers, as ZANU PF held its primary elections in eight provinces across the country, prompting the party leadership to extend voting to today in some areas.
All results will be officially announced at the National Command Centre at the party headquarters this week, once voting closes and due processes have been followed.
Masvingo and Midlands provinces, which did not carry out the intra-party elections yesterday, are expected to do so today.
Addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday, ZANU PF national political commissar Cde Mike Bimha said the internal polls, which are a preparation for this year’s general elections, had been conducted in a peaceful manner.
“This demonstrates the organisational capacity and capability of our tried and tested revolutionary party. All things considered, this primary election is geared to be a great success,” he said.
Cde Bimha said the party was now seized with securing voting material to ensure smooth voting during today’s extended date.
“Due to the multitudes of our party faithful, who thronged polling stations across the country, the party has been compelled to extend voting in some areas to tomorrow (today), March 26, 2023.
“Only the voting centres that did not complete the voting exercise are expected to resume the voting process until lunch time. As reported earlier, Masvingo and Midlands will commence the voting process tomorrow (today) from 0700hrs to 1600hrs,” he said.
Cde Bimha urged the party’s structures to ensure that all its members are well catered for and recorded in cell registers.
“We are expecting 4,3 million registered card-carrying party members to vote in this primary election.
“We also received reports from our various Provincial Command Centres indicating that a significant number of our supporters could not vote because they were not captured in the voters’ rolls (cell registers).
“With this in mind, we urge our party structures to capture these supporters as we march towards reaching the five million voters target in the forthcoming 2023 harmonised elections,” he said.
Addressing the same press conference, ZANU PF national spokesperson Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa said the party’s leadership was focused on ensuring that its members’ expectations are met.
“We always boast that ZANU PF is there to rule by the consent of the people. Here we are today in the Second Republic in the openness agenda championed by President Mnangagwa, extending democracy to the grassroots level of this massive party of the Zimbabwe revolution,” he said.
In Harare province, voters arrived in large numbers at various polling centres.
Elections in the capital were generally peaceful save for a few incidents. At the Nenyere polling station in Mbare, voters scrambled to cast their ballots. One of the fascinating battles in Harare province is the Harare South National Assembly seat that is being contested by 13 candidates.
In Mbare constituency, ZANU PF Harare Youth League chairman Cde Emmanuel Mahachi went against Cde Martin Matinyaya, while in Epworth South, the incumbent Member of Parliament, Cde Zalerah Makari, was pitted against Cdes Honour Taedzwa and Erick Pfumvute.
Harare West saw Cde Spencer Mabeka battle it out with Cdes Tendayi Zindoga and Francis Mambo.
Kuwadzana East saw a considerable turnout of people, especially elderly women.
In Dzivaresekwa, logistical challenges and uncertainties over boundaries saw the electorate being transferred from one polling station to another.
Chitungwiza saw thousands of voters casting their votes and because of the high numbers, most wards in the dormitory town had to extend the voting process beyond the 4pm cut off time to clear queues.
“We got our ballot papers a bit late so the voting process only started around 12pm and to cut off at 4pm would have been unfair to the voters because they were here as early as seven o’clock in the morning,” said Cde Stewart Mhuru, the ZANU PF Chitungwiza’s Nyadzonia B District Chair.
A voter in Unit N Mrs Christine Chibhamu said:
“The voting process was flawless and peaceful; we now wait for the results. Our day went well, we are happy because this time everything was transparent, we were kept in the loop throughout the CVs submission process. It made us feel that we were part of the procedure hence motivating us to vote.”
Voting in Mashonaland East Province, where there are some intriguing battles, started around 8 am.
For the National Assembly seat in Chikomba East, Cabinet Ministers Felix Mhona and Cde Sekai Nzenza are facing off, with Cde Edmore Kandira also battling for the same seat.
Marondera Central Constituency pits Cde Cleopas Kundiona against Cde Lawrence Katsiru and Cde Dunmore Mutyambizi.
In Uzumba, veteran politician Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa is being contested by broadcaster Cde Richmond Siyakurima and other candidates.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail elections team leader for Mashonaland East Cde Paul Mangwana said:
“The voting process went well in all the polling stations across the province. We had no issues of violence and our teams worked professionally. There has been a huge turn-out of voters in most polling stations that I visited. Our process shows that there is democracy within ZANU PF and that the party is mature. People are using a secret ballot voting method. At some polling stations, there was overwhelming turn out to an extent that we ended up seeking support so that voters could be assisted quickly.”
Technical glitches including delays in arrival of ballot papers and deployment of polling officers saw a late start to voting in Mashonaland West.
Most constituencies received the required material after 11 am with hard-to-reach areas like Makonde, Sanyati and Hurungwe taking delivery even later.
However, voting later progressed well at most centres where there were huge turnouts of voters.
Voters at Chinhoyi 1 Primary School in Ward 4 described the process as flawless, saying those that were not appearing on the roll had not registered their names with the cell chairpersons.
In Mutorashanga, Zvimba Ward 15, some people failed to vote as their cell registers had not been submitted to party’s headquarters for verification.
Dispatching of ballot papers to Makonde and Mhangura constituencies under Makonde district which was done late, saw some areas commencing the process around 4 pm.
Provincial political commissar, Cde John Yotamu said the aggrieved candidates and voters were being assisted to ensure that the process is done transparently.