01 Aug 2013 03:50
By Charles Tjatindi
HARARE, 01 AUG (NAMPA) Millions turned out on Wednesday to cast their votes in the watershed Zimbabwe harmonised elections at more than 9 000 polling stations.
The elections will elect a new president, members of the National Assembly and Local Authority Councillors.
The polling stations opened at 07h00, and closed at 19h00.
Long queues of aspiring voters were reported after closing time at the various polling stations across the country, prompting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to issue an order to all presiding officers that they should allow all those in the queues to cast their ballots.
The exercise meant that polling officers endured a long night at the polling stations in all the populous Mashonaland and Matebeleland provinces, where voting went well past midnight.
While rural areas experienced a huge influx of voters, urban centres had little trouble dealing with the few people who were trickling into the polling stations towards closing time.
The ZEC has registered about 6,4 million voters for this years elections.
The head of the African Union Observer Mission, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was the first to comment on the voting process at a media briefing on Wednesday evening, when he declared the process free and transparent.
From all the reports that I have been receiving, I can safely say this elections were free and fair. There might have been a few hiccups along the way, which could have delayed the process at some centres, but the general feeling is that all went according to plan,Obasanjo noted.
He added that the AU will not shy away from informing ZEC of any irregularities it may come upon during the elections, or at the counting process.
ZEC chairperson Rita Makarawu also shared similar sentiments on the elections.
We are confident that this process has been done with no reports of unwarranted behaviour, and are therefore confident that the polls were free and fair, she said at a different media briefing.