Zanu-PF has deployed teams to all of the country’s 10 provinces to preside over primary elections set for today which are widely viewed as a yardstick to gauge the ruling party’s strength in preparation for the national plebiscite set for July or August.
A record of over 8 000 candidates are contesting in the primaries for National Assembly, women’s quota, Senate, provincial council and local authority seats.
Voting during the primaries is expected to start at 7am and end at 5.30pm with provisional results set to be announced soon after counting while finalised results will be publicised tomorrow from 4 pm.
The revolutionary party has waived restrictions for voting as party supporters will only be asked to produce national identity cards or a valid passport.
Voters are expected to cast their ballots in their respective wards of residence to ensure that the primary poll mirrors the main election which will be polling station based.
In a statement availed to The Sunday Mail yesterday, the party’s national political commissar, Lieutenant-General (Retired) Dr Englebert Rugeje said: “All polling stations are expected to open for business on Sunday 29 April 2018, commencing 0700 hours and closing at 1730 hours.
“Counting and collation of results will start immediately after closure of voting and results will be announced to those present. A copy of the results will be posted at the polling station.
“Polling station results will be forwarded to the Administrative Elections Management Centre where parliamentary, senatorial, women’s quota and provincial council results will be announced.”
Dr Rugeje, who is also the chairperson of the Zanu-PF elections commission, said the party had deployed members of the commission to all the provinces to supervise the polls.
“The Zanu-PF elections commission members have been deployed to each province to work hand-in-glove with the team leaders and the provincial party leadership to ensure that the elections are conducted smoothly in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity,” he said.
According to Dr Rugeje, results will be posted outside the polling stations first before verification by the provincial and national management centres.
“The results will be forward to the Provincial Elections Management Centre for onward transmission to the National Elections Management Centre at the party headquarters in Harare.
“Final results are expected to be announced by the national elections commission chairman on Monday 30 April at 1600 hours.”
Dr Rugeje said polling stations were set as the designated meeting points for the party districts that will be manned by six officers under supervision by a presiding officer.
The party’s provinces were a hive of activity yesterday as teams started arriving in preparation for the polls.
In Bulawayo, provincial chair Cde Chris Sibanda yesterday said: “Today (yesterday) was a busy day as candidates were being introduced.
“Deployment of officers will be done tomorrow (today) morning and our elections will be ward based.
“We have 29 wards which will translate to 29 polling stations. Voting will start at 7am and end at 4pm.
“Voters are required to bring their BVR slips and identity documents. All other necessary information can be obtained from the Commissariat Department.”
Matabeleland North chair Cde Richard Moyo said the province had taken delivery of ballot papers and it was all systems go.
“Today (Saturday) we will be holding a PCC meeting in Lupane and we will be briefing the teams,” he said.
“There we will also be giving guidelines to candidates on how the process will go tomorrow (Sunday).
“We will also deploy polling officers today (Saturday) in all constituencies so that we will not have hiccups tomorrow (today).
“Everything is now in place. We have received the ballot papers and we are set to go.”
In President Mnangagwa’s home province, Midlands, the ruling party’s provincial chair, Cde Mackenzie Ncube, said all prospective candidates had been briefed on what was expected of them.
“We met the candidates last week and we briefed them on guidelines, so we have started deploying polling officers in all 28 constituencies and 286 wards,” he said.
“As for the ballot papers we are expecting them anytime from now. As a province we are ready for the primary elections.”
Chairman of Harare province Cde Godwills Masimirembwa said there were 245 polling stations in the province.
“Preparations are going on very well and everything is on course,” he said.
“We expect the material to be delivered towards the end of the day (Saturday).
“All our 245 polling stations throughout the province will open at 7am.
“Counting of the ballots will take place at individual polling stations before results are transmitted to the national headquarters.
“Results of individual polling stations will be posted outside the respective polling station.”
In Masvingo, chairperson Cde Ezra Chadzamira said: “We are nearly done with preparations and our election officers are being deployed today (Saturday).
“The polling stations will open at 7am as per directive from the national leadership.
“All the logistics are in place and we are receiving all materials including ballot papers.”
Cde Rabelani Choeni, who is Zanu-PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman, also said all was in place for the primary elections.
“Everything is now set for the election. The final list of those contesting has been released and we hope the best candidates win,” he said.
Cde Choeni said aspiring candidates in the province had held joint rallies as prescribed by the party commissariat.
Yesterday some party candidates held final rallies under the joint meetings initiative that has exhibited the party’s capability to organise.
The joint rallies have also enabled the party to promote non-violent conduct and discourage acrimony.
In Mashonaland West, 364 polling stations had been established while deployment of ballot material was still underway late into the night.
There were no incidents of violence reported.
In Mashonaland Central candidates held holding joint rallies yesterday especially in Guruve North, Guruve South, Centenary and Mbire.
All eyes will be on Mt Darwin South were a record 20 candidates will be battling it out.
Statistics availed by the party recently showed that just over 6 000 candidates will contest for 1 950 local authorities.
About 1 302 candidates square off for the 210 National Assembly constituencies while 226 are in the running for the 60 women’s quota seats.
On the other hand, 208 candidates are in the hat for the 60 Senate seats while the 48 provincial council seats that are available will be contested by 203 aspirants.
A total of 3 250 polling stations will be in place for the elections.