ZANU PF’s primary elections in Bulawayo on Saturday were mired with frustrated voters, delays, and missing ballot papers, causing chaos and commotion at some polling stations.
Despite establishing 71 polling stations across Bulawayo, some party members spent hours in queues, with delays in voting starting at the scheduled time of 7 AM. In Ward 9, some candidates reported missing ballot papers, and one candidate demanded the voting process be halted due to his name and supporters’ cell structures being absent. However, the presiding officer denied the request and expressed frustration about some agents insulting her.
Voting began at 8:45 AM and was running smoothly until some Mabuthweni voters realized their names were missing from the voters’ roll. The presiding officer advised them to wait while she inquired about the issue, but the Mabuthweni voters became agitated and caused a disturbance, prompting her to call the police to disperse them. The officer later informed the voters that their names had been found, and they would be allowed to vote.
Moreover, some polling stations faced challenges such as lacking stationery, and in Ward 12, voting had not started by 11 AM. Despite these issues, some candidates, including Judith Makwande Ncube, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, and Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi, sailed through uncontested for their respective constituencies.
ZANU PF political commissar Mike Bimha said all results would be officially announced at the National Command Centre at the party headquarters this week after voting closes, and due processes have been followed.
This year’s primary elections were deemed critical, with some political analysts seeing them as a litmus test for the party’s electoral chances. However, with the reports of problems, some voters have raised concerns about the ruling party’s ability to conduct free and fair elections.
It remains to be seen how ZANU PF will address the issues raised in these primaries as the nation prepares for the general elections scheduled for 2023.