By A Correspondent| The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observed the run-off by-elections being held in Ward 33 of Makoni Rural District Council yesterday.
According to Section 129 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13), run-off by-elections are mandated in the event where 2 or more candidates receive an equal number of valid votes cast.
In response to this requirement, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) organized the current run-off by-election, which has been unfolding peacefully thus far.
As of midday, the political environment in Ward 33 has been described as peaceful, with no reported incidents during the polling process. An essential step in the process, the display of voters’ rolls outside polling stations, has been duly implemented to enable voters to verify their registration details prior to casting their votes.
The opening of the 6 polling stations was prompt and smooth, with all necessary polling materials readily available, including ballot boxes, ballot papers, indelible finger markers, voters’ rolls, and official ZEC stamps.
In terms of staffing, an average of 7 polling officers, all male presiding officers, manned each polling station, ensuring an efficient voting process. ZESN observers reported that the voting process was proceeding seamlessly in all stations, with all procedures being followed in accordance with electoral laws.
Representatives from both major contesting parties, ZANU-PF and CCC, were actively present, comprehensively tracking the polling process across all polling stations.
A few voters, primarily due to illiteracy or visual impairment, required assistance in casting their votes. Notably, voters were free to choose their preferred assisting person. The highest number of assisted voters were recorded at St Johns Mupanguri Primary School, while no requests for assistance were reported at Mavhudzi Secondary School.
Some individuals were turned away due to discrepancies in voter rolls or a lack of valid identification documents. By midday, 18 people had been redirected to appropriate polling stations where they were registered.
ZESN observers reported varying voter turnouts ranging from approximately 57% to 16% as of midday. The voting process is scheduled to continue until 1900 hours, with ZESN committed to monitoring and providing further updates throughout the day. A comprehensive end-of-day statement and a report featuring recommendations for electoral stakeholders will be issued post-election.