Long lines formed outside many polling stations in Harare, the capital, and elsewhere.
Anyone in line as of the 19:00 closing time could still vote, though opposition parties were concerned that their supporters could drift away if forced to wait for hours.
Some observers welcomed Zimbabwe’s freer political environment but cited worries about bias in state media, a lack of transparency in ballot printing and reports of intimidation by pro-government traditional leaders who are supposed to stay neutral.
Concerns have been raised about the delays at polling stations and if voters queueing would be allowed to vote after 19:00.
Reports suggest that those queueing will still be allowed to vote.
Polling stations are scheduled to close at 19:00.
A run-off vote is scheduled for September 8 if no presidential candidate wins at least 50% in the first round.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader warns that “there seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate the urban vote.”
Nelson Chamisa has expressed his concerns on Twitter but declares that “Victory is ours!”
The vote in Zimbabwe’s major cities is crucial to the opposition while rural areas traditionally back the ruling party.
That can benefit President Emmerson Mnangagwa. People in line when polls close at 19:00. can vote.
The electoral commission says the turnout is high and voting has been peaceful, a contrast to the violence seen in past votes under former leader Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.This is the first election without Mugabe on the ballot. – AP
Zimbabwe Election: Top candidates may have violated law
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it has referred to police at least two candidates who might have violated the law by campaigning after the cutoff time.
The chair of the commission is refusing to name names during a press conference but the candidates are likely President Emmerson Mnangagwa and main opposition challenger Nelson Chamisa.
Both issued public statements on Sunday.Campaigning ended 24 hours before polls opened Monday morning.
Scores of chanting Zimbabweans gathered to see 94-year-old former leader Robert Mugabe vote, despite his troubled legacy.
“We miss him. I last saw him ages ago,” says 22-year-old Everjoy Tafirei.
Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure after 37 years in power.
“I just want to see him face to face, even shake his hand as someone I have supported all my life. I still feel like he is my hero,” says 34-year-old Jacob Mucheche.
Mugabe struggled to walk into the polling station but raised his fist before entering, acknowledging the crowd.
The warm reception was a stark contrast to the grim faces as Mugabe’s successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, voted earlier. – AP
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on Monday cast his ballot in the country’s first election since he was ousted by the military in November after ruling for 37 years, an AFP journalist saw.
Mugabe, 94, made no comment as he walked unaided into the polling station at a primary school in the Highfield district of Harare, accompanied by his wife Grace. – AFP
Crowd reacts as Mugabe and his wife, Grace emerge from the polling station.
eNCA is reporting that former president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace are voting now.
Chigumba says two presidential candidates (no names) have violated the Electoral Act by campaigning after deadline
This is what Chamisa said after casting his vote”:
“I have no doubt that by the end of the day today we should be very clear as to an emphatic voice for change, the new, and the young – I represent that,”
He again raised fraud allegations, saying “in the rural areas… if the ballot is a genuine one, not a fake one, victory is certain.”
Chamisa hopes to tap into a young population that could vote for change.
Earlier, former vice president Joice Mujuru cast her vote at Oriel Girls High School in Harare.
Mujuru was sacked from Zanu-PF by Mugabe in 2014 Joice Mujuru on accusations of corruption and plotting to kill him.
Zimbabwe’s two main presidential candidates faced starkly different receptions as they voted in a historic election.
Solemn faces greeted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he arrived with his wife at a rural school in Kwekwe.
There was no cheering, and people crossed their arms and watched as he left in his motorcade.Meanwhile opposition leader Nelson Chamisa was swarmed by cheering, whistling supporters on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.
And the mood at other polling stations was largely cheerful as people waited in line. Some arrived at 04:00, three hours early.
Mnangagwa previously lost parliamentary elections in his Kwekwe constituency and had been appointed by former leader Robert Mugabe to an unelected seat in parliament, leading to derisive comments from the opposition about his lack of electoral appeal. – AP
Dr Winston Mano, Director of the Africa Media Centre at the University of Westminster has shared his views:
“These are the first important elections in the post Mugabe-Tsvangirai era, a real chance for unprecedented social change in the fledgling democracy with many challenges: cash shortages, unemployment, corruption, sanctions, lack of investment, etc.
“Campaigning has largely been free of violence but complaints of structural bias have been made by the opposition, MDC Alliance. Some of the issues have been corrected by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC) but others remain. The ruling party is happy with the preparations. The African Union has expressed satisfaction with the preparations.
Peace and more freedoms
“The opposition MDC Alliance is united and could present a strong challenge to the ruling Zanu-PF Party. Squabbles and splits in both parties could cost them crucial votes. The MDC remains strong in urban areas. There is a possibility of a run-off between the two leading parties.
“Zanu-PF has promised to continue with peace, more freedoms and to uphold minority rights, and to put an end to land invasions. MDC has promised a smarter approach to the economy to create jobs and revitalise industry.
“I see Zanu-PF winning by a small margin, resulting in a strong opposition to its policies. In my view, the best result will be a government of national unity.”
Dr Heike Schmidt, Associate Professor in Modern African History at the University of Reading, says:
“The outcome of the Zimbabwean elections is significant not just for the country, but the region and beyond. When the military effected a leadership change in November last year by removing Robert Mugabe from power, who had ruled the country since its independence in 1980, the nation was both jubilant and thoroughly disappointed.
The new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa has since run the country calmly, reasserting the power of the ruling party, Zanu-PF, and its elders, legitimizing their standing through their participation in the liberation war of the 1960s and 70s.
“The elections, if free and fair, provide an opportunity to establish a strong opposition presence in parliament for the first time since 1987 or to even topple Zanu-PF. What one can say so far is that pre-election violence and intimidation appears to be less than on previous such occasions and that President Mnangagwa appears utterly confident in his election victory.”
NewsDay is reporting that while other international broadcasters have allocated a lot of airtime to the Zimbabwe election – giving minute by minute updates from events countrywide, Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster, ZBC TV is screening regular programmes.
ZBC TV only broke off the normal programming to air Mnangagwa casting his vote, the report says.
MDC’s Chamisa has reportedly told BBC that he is confident of victory in today’s election.
“It’s a done deal… We are not losing this election – we are winning this election. I’m not interested in hypotheticals – we are will win this election to the extent it’s free and fair – especially in the rural areas. It’s a done deal,” BBC quoted him as saying.
A politician in the Zimbabwean opposition stronghold of Bulawayo says there are numerous reports of “voting going at a snail’s pace.”
David Coltart, a supporter of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, says he hopes election observers will pay special attention to the pace of voting “as it is a means of suppressing the urban vote.”
Coltart says on Twitter that Zimbabwe’s electoral commission deliberately slowed voting in urban areas in the 2002 election to undermine the opposition, which traditionally has strong support in major cities. Past elections have been marred by irregularities.
But Zimbabwe’s electoral commission says this election — the first without longtime leader Robert Mugabe — will be free and fair. – AP
Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper is harshly criticising main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on election day, calling him a proxy for former leader Robert Mugabe and rejecting his claims to represent change.
The front-page commentary follows Sunday’s remarks by the 94-year-old Mugabe that he would not vote for his former deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa and that Chamisa is the only viable candidate.
“Now this is the man who tries a comeback by proxy,” The Herald says. Addressing the 40-year-old Chamisa, it continues: “You willingly become his cat’s paw while masquerading as an independent man representing a new generation.” – AP
And the Red Cross Team is on the ground providing free first aid coverage to voters at polling stations.
It’s a close race for the presidency in Zimbabwe as the country goes to the polls.
Here’s a look at the two main candidates vying to lead the once-prosperous southern African nation out of the shadow of former leader Robert Mugabe, who stepped down in November under military pressure.
Mnangagwa wore a scarf with the country’s national colors as he arrived at a primary school converted into a polling station, and chatted briefly with election workers after casting his ballot.
He told reporters that he is committed to a Zimbabwe in which people have the “freedom to express their views, negative or positive.”
He called the vote peaceful. And he took the criticism of him by former leader Robert Mugabe on Sunday in stride, saying that “He is a citizen … He can engage me anytime.” – AP
Reports indicate that Mnangagwa has cast his vote at Sherwood Primary shcool in Kwekwe.
Speaking shortly after casting his vote, the president said that the country “is experiencing democracy never witnessed before”
A former Cabinet minister and opposition leader in Zimbabwe says it’s a “great day” for the country as it goes to the polls.
Dumiso Dabengwa, head of the opposition Zimbabwe African People’s Union, tells the South African news outlet eNCA that the election offers two starkly different paths for Zimbabweans.
“It’s a decider as to whether Zimbabwe goes forward or remains stuck in the problems that it is facing today,” said Dabengwa, who was imprisoned for years without charge under former leader Robert Mugabe.
He describes the vote as a choice between a “new, fresh start” and the “status quo”. – AP
Dabengwa says he supports main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
AP is reporting that Piercing whistles and cheers greeted Chamisa as he voted in the country’s historic election.
Crowds swarmed the 40-year-old lawyer and pastor at a polling station just outside Harare.
Chamisa is challenging the 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe’s first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot.
The contest could bring international legitimacy and investment or signal more stagnation if the vote is seriously flawed.
eNCA has posted a video of Nelson Chamisa talking to the media soon after he cast his vote.
“It’s a great moment for Zimbabwe… We hope that in the rural areas the ballot that has been used is an appropriate one.
“Victory is certain for the people,” says Chamisa