Vote counting underway in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Vote counting is underway in Zimbabwe following Monday’s presidential elections.

Polling closed on Monday night in Zimbabwe with election authorities reporting high voter turnout throughout the country.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) commissioner Qubani Moyo said voting went on smoothly and peacefully around the country, with vote counting currently underway.

"We have received positive feedback in terms of high turnout in provinces. People voted in peace and tranquillity and we had very few incidences or anomalies being recorded in the voting process," Moyo said.

He said results of National Assembly and local authority elections were expected to start from early on Tuesday morning while presidential results are expected by 4 August.

Polling stations opened at 7am with long queues characterizing most polling stations in an election in which voters were electing the president, members of parliament and local government representatives.

A record 23 candidates are taking part in the presidential vote. However, the election is a two-horse race between 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time Mugabe ally, and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, a lawyer and pastor who is vying to become Zimbabwe's youngest Head of State.

Both have promised to focus on the country's ailing economy if elected.

Mnangagwa cast his ballot on Monday morning in Kwekwe, in his home province of Midlands.

His main rival Chamisa also cast his vote in the capital Harare.

Mnangagwa told reporters soon after casting his vote that Zimbabwe was enjoying an unprecedented democratic space.

He also said former president Robert Mugabe was entitled to express his views.

Mugabe, who resigned in November last year following a military intervention, said on Sunday he will vote for the opposition, dumping the ruling ZANU-PF party which he founded in 1963.

"I can assure you that this country is enjoying democratic space which has never been experienced before. The former president has his right to express his views," Mnangagwa said.

Mugabe, who was accompanied by his wife Grace and daughter Bona Chikore, cast his vote at Mhofu Primary School in Harare.

Several people hoped that the elections would usher in a new era where the economy thrives and Zimbabweans enjoy a higher quality of life.

Katsande of Bluff Hill, Harare West constituency, said he arrived at the polling station at a nearby school at 4am, although polling would start at 7am.

"I wanted to be early and was the first to arrive here. I am excited about casting my vote," he said.

Chiwada of Kuwadzana, Harare West constituency, said he hoped that whoever won the elections should honour their promises to the electorate.

"They gave us lots of promises and we are voting for them in good faith. I hope they will do the same and ensure that those promises come to fruition," he said.

In an effort to demonstrate openness, Zimbabwe invited more than 60 countries and key international organizations to observe the elections. The Commonwealth, European Union, African Union, SADC and COMESA have sent observer groups to Zimbabwe.

There are 5.6 million people who registered to vote in the polls. – Xinhua