The Nkulumane by-election in Bulawayo was yesterday marred by a poor turnout as most registered voters snubbed the poll ,which was also boycotted by mainstream opposition parties.
By Staff Reporters
Voting kicked off on a relatively low note, with short queues of about 10 people at polling stations but as the day progressed, most polling centres looked virtually deserted.
The trend continued during the greater part of the day with elderly people, mostly women, trickling in to cast their votes.
At some polling stations, apathy was pronounced with election officers outnumbering actual voters.
By lunch time, close to 1 000 people had cast their ballots while several were turned away for not having national identity particulars, or wearing political party regalia.
Residents said it was not a “perfect” voting day as they were preparing for the festive season.
At Bullet Shopping Centre, where a tent was pitched, scores of people seemed oblivious of the on-going vote as they were boarding commuter buses heading to the Central Business District.
“I am a registered voter but my shopping for the festive season is a major priority.
“We have no history of voting during this time of the year, remember many people have their weddings [during this time of the year],” said Zenzo Msimanga.
Another resident, who identified herself as Martha, said she would vote at the last minute.
“There is no hurry so early in the morning. I checked with my polling station and saw less than 10 people waiting to vote. There are no queues, so I will dash there after 5:30pm”, she said.
Zanu PF’s Killian Sibanda, Ngwalo Nyathi and Sibusisiwe Mpofu of the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe and Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe respectively, were vying for the seat which fell vacant following the death of MDC-T’s Thamsanqa Mahlangu.
Sibanda is expected to grab the seat with a relatively low figure votes, if June 10 by-election results in the city are anything to go by.
By lunch time, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials said it was too early to gauge voter turnout.
ZEC had set up 30 polling stations and printed 35 800 ballot papers.
A victory in Nkulumane would effectively put Zanu PF on an equal footing with the MDC-T, whose Bulawayo National Assembly seats would be whittled down to six.
The MDCs and Zapu boycotted the by-election citing lack of electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair voting.
The boycott strategy allowed Zanu PF to grab five seats in Bulawayo during the June 10 by-elections, which were triggered by the firing of 16 MDC-T legislators who had defected to form another political outfit.
Zanu PF had struggled to make inroads in Bulawayo, which has been dominated by the MDC-T since the party’s formation in 1999.