Zimbabwe Standard Harare Everson Mushava
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

Zanu PF was accused of bussing supporters to polling stations as well as intimidating voters in the Norton by-election held yesterday.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) said although the polls were peaceful, it was worried about reports that people were force-marched to polling stations.

Some were allegedly told that they would lose their market stalls if they did not vote for Zanu PF candidate Ronald Chindedza.

Chindedza was battling it out with firebrand independent candidate Temba Mliswa in a do or die by-election forced by the recall of war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa from the National Assembly.

Zesn deployed 72 static and mobile observers to measure compliance of the election day processes with the Constitution and electoral laws.

“Observer reports have shown that voting started on time in all polling stations. The political environment in the constituency is calm and peaceful and voting is proceeding smoothly with few reported incidents,” the election watchdog said in an afternoon update.

“Zesn has received reports that there are Zanu PF officials taking down voters’ names after casting their votes at some polling stations within the constituency, for instance at Clifford Primary School in Ward 14 and in Ward 15 at Kingsdale.

“Zesn is deeply concerned about this practice as it falls within the category of intimidatory practices which clearly violates section 133B (c) (1) of the Electoral Act, which outlaws any attempts to compel voters to vote for a particular candidate or party.”

The group said it observed bussed Zanu PF supporters at Ward 15’s Kent Primary School and several other polling stations.

There were also reports of fliers all over the place urging MDC T supporters not to participate in the elections.

But Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) said MDC-T officials professed ignorance of the fliers and accused Zanu PF for distributing them.

“People who spoke to the HZT team at Culfur shops also said that the fliers were distributed by Zanu PF youths,” HZT said.

There were also reports that Zanu PF youths were stationed in Ward 8 at their base adjacent to Ngoni stadium.

Several people said they did not vote because they believed the election would be rigged, while some vendors alleged that in the morning, they were force-marched to polling stations by Zanu PF youths.

“The vendors were threatened that if they did not vote for Zanu candidate, Mr Chindedza, they would be removed from their market stalls,” HZT said

Most people in Ward 14, Norton’s rural ward did not vote as they were not registered voters.

“People who spoke to the HZT team at Sandringham High School said Zanu PF youths forced people to go and vote and that people were told to vote for Zanu PF candidate, Mr Chindedza,” the organisation said.

Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa had on Thursday warned that Zanu PF would try to win the by-election “at all costs.”

Mliswa on his Facebook page complained over the high numbers of voters in the supplementary voter’s roll.

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