Female voters sit in a queue at Vilivili Primary School polling station; an unusual arrangement which led many to think that the voters had undergone some form of coaching prior to voting day. Normally voters stand in a queue when waiting to vote but at most poling stations in Mwenezi East voters were already seated in queues as early as 5 am.
21 April 2017, MWENEZI – Out of the approximately 47 000 people who registered to vote in the just ended Mwenezi East parliamentary by-election, about 20 000 managed to cast their votes with many saying they forgot the day of the election.
Zanu PF candidate Joosbi Omar was left embarrassed after being turned away from two wrong polling stations; Chatagwi Primary School and Vilivili. He only managed to vote on his third attempt at Muzhanjire polling station.
“A new chapter in development has been opened for the people of Mwenezi East. I will challenge myself to develop this constituency, something which my predecessors failed to do,” Omar after finally casting his ballot.
Omar went on to win by 18 790 votes, a resounding victory for a party that did not put much effort in the campaign relative to its previous approach to elections with more formidable opposition. Welcome Masuku of NCA and Turner Muhango of FZC got only 482 and 386 votes respectively
People from Mapapa and other areas, however, told TellZim News they had missed voting day because they confused the dates.
“We were shocked to hear that the election was already done. The information we got was that the election would be conducted on Sunday not Saturday. We spent the whole day busy with our daily routines and never noticed people were voting,” said one villager.
Voter queues were visibly dominated by women, some of whom arrived at the polling stations as early as 05:00 hrs and sat in an orderly line; an unusual arrangement that led many to suspect that some voters had undergone pre-election coaching.
The voting day was also strikingly lacking in youth participation, a development which does not bode well with opposition efforts to penetrate the rural electorate ahead of 2018
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who withdrew form the race citing vote-buying and intimidation of his supporters by Zanu PF, dismissed the election as a farce, claiming that the low voter turnout showed people were tired of Zanu PF’s shallow pretences of democratic rule.
“People are no longer fools. They no longer want Zanu PF. Yes they (Zanu PF) have won but they should know they were running a race on their own. There is nothing to celebrate here,” said Bhasikiti.
“The number of people who voted in the by-election is less than the total votes I got in 2013 before we had added more than 20 000 adult voters who were displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi floods and resettled here.
“They expected to get over 40 000 votes from the 48 000 registered voters but they could not get even half the figure despite dosing people with food handouts. A big story; I won in absentia. No hope for Zanu PF in the 2018 elections,” said Bhasikiti.local,top news