Poll monitors yesterday expressed concern over the high number of assisted voters during the Bikita West parliamentary by-election amid claims Zanu PF supporters feigned illiteracy as part of rigging.
BY Tatenda chitagu
The monitors also reported isolated cases of voter intimidation.
“By 1400 hours, about 747 voters had been assisted in eight out of 11 wards,” the Election Resource Centre said on Twitter. “This comprises the secrecy of the ballot.”
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association boss Okay Machisa said he was also worried about the high number of assisted voters.
Six candidates were slugging it out to fill the seat that was left vacant by former MP Munyaradzi Kereke who was convicted and jailed for raping his then 11-year-old niece.
Zanu PF was represented by Beauty Chabaya who battled Kudakwashe Gopo (Zimbabwe People First), Madock Tatirai Chivasa (National Constitutional Assembly), Tanyaradzwa Terrence Makumbo (Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe) and two independent candidates Heya Shoko and Innocent Muzvimbiri.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and Heal Zimbabwe Trust deployed 58 human rights monitors on the ground to assess the election process.
In a statement, Zesn said by midday, voting went on smoothly except on some stations where Zanu PF supporters were allegedly force-marching people to go and vote.
Other Zanu PF supporters were observed campaigning 100 metres from polling stations in contravention of the law.
At Charamba polling station, voters told Heal Zimbabwe that they felt intimidated by two Toyota Hilux trucks without number plates that were patrolling the area.
“At Bikita West Ward 5, Gift Mazhaka, a Zanu PF youth leader was moving door-to-door with some other Zanu PF youths threatening and intimidating villagers,” Heal Zimbabwe said.
“Mazhaka announced that on 22 January 2016, Zanu PF plans to move around the villages beating up everyone if it loses the election.”
The two organisations reported that voting started on time at all polling stations.
“The processing of voters, including those with special needs was efficient,” Zesn said.
Zesn said many voters were turned away for various reasons such as not having proper identification and going to wrong polling stations.
Machisa also said they observed people taking names of voters outside polling stations.