Long queues in Harare, Bulawayo as voting begins.

Long queues in Harare, Bulawayo as voting begins
HARARE - Zimbabweans began voting on Saturday with long queues seen at most polling stations in Harare and the second largest city of Bulawayo.

Queues stretching for more than 200m could be seen at some polling stations in Harare as voting began at 0700 a.m. Voting is scheduled to end at 1900 p.m.At one polling centre at a state school in Kuwadzana constituency in Harare some enthusiastic voters told ZimOnline reporters they had camped at the polling station as early as 0200 a.m, a sign of the palpable excitement gripping Zimbabwe in what analysts have said is a make-or-break election.But voters also complained of the slow pace at which polling officers were processing voters, with what appeared to be opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters starting to accuse the officers of deliberately delaying the process in a bid to deny them a chance to vote.Some presiding officials also told ZimOnline that some voters were confused with the too many ballot papers despite the different colouring meant to help voters distinguish ballots. The election is the first time that Zimbabweans are being asked to simultaneously choose a new president, senators, House of Assembly representatives and local councilors.In Bulawayo voters were camped at poling stations as early as 6 o’clock in the morning waiting their turn to cast ballots. However, voters also complained the process was too slow.We have been here since morning and an hour after the polling station has opened less than twenty people have cast their votes and this is ridiculous because we have hundreds of people waiting to cast their votes, complained one elderly man waiting in a long and winding queue at a polling station at Makokoba pre-school.At Mpopoma high school in Mpopoma suburb, voters complained after finding that there were three ballot boxes instead of four after the House of Assembly elections were postponed following the death of MDC Mutambara faction candidate Milton Gwetu earlier this month.The elections are taking place amid an acute recession blamed on state mismanagement and seen in the world’s highest inflation of more than 100 000 percent, spiraling poverty, shortages of food and every basic commodity.Political analysts say support from the military and a skewed political playing field that disadvantages the opposition are enough to ensure victory for President Robert Mugabe’s government despite an economic crisis that the World Bank has described as the worst in the world outside a war zone.And security forces chiefs on Friday threatened to crush post-election protests by the opposition, telling voters to stay indoors once they finish casting their ballots.Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe on Friday said votes would be counted at polling stations and results will be displayed at the voting stations. The figures will also be sent to constituency collation centre where they will be collated and winners in the Senate and House of Assembly elections will be declared.Votes for the presidential election would also be counted at polling stations and results displayed at the stations. The same figures will then be filed to a national collation centre in Harare where the chief elections officer will declare the winner.In addition, while senate and House of Assembly winners are declared in constituencies, the national collation centre would also make formal announcements of the winners in these two elections.

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