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Mliswa, Guzah in Tight Battle for Zimbabwe's Hurungwe West Seat


FILE: People queue to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.

FILE: People queue to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare, March 16, 2013.

Independent parliamentary by-election candidate, Temba Mliswa, was leading by only two votes against his bitter rival, Keith Kuzah of Zanu PF, in provisional unofficial election results sourced from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) late Wednesday evening.

Mliswa had ammased 1,006 votes from 8 polling stations out of 35 by midnight, a narrow margin set to change within hours. There were six spoilt papers in polling stations where votes had so far been counted.

Most of the results are set to be announced Thursday.

There was a low voter turnout at some polling stations in Hurungwe West, Mashonaland West province, where former Zanu PF lawmaker, Mliswa, tried to stop the poll claiming that his supporters were allegedly being terrorized by ruling party activists.

A large number of people, mostly elderly villagers, who tried to cast their votes were turned away as their names were not appearing on the voters’ roll.

About 161 were turned away at Ndarara, Madudzo and Waseva schools when they tried to cast their ballots.

The angry villagers, who included 65 year old Bernard Mapfumo, who has been voting for 35 years, accused polling officers of manipulating the election in favour of the ruling party.

"How can my name be missing when I checked it last month? … Some people could be voting in our place.”

Polling officers refused to comment about these allegations, saying they were not cleared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to discuss such matters.

ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau, was not reachable for comment.

There were long queues at some polling stations like Chiroti and Madudzo while a few people cast their votes at Waseva Primary School where election officers were seen relaxing and doing other personal chores.

Indications are that the Hurungwe West by-election is likely to record less votes than those who cast their ballots in the 2013 harmonised elections won by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party though the result was questioned by opposition parties.

There was a heavy presence of police inside and around all polling stations.

Zanu PF fielded Guzah in the by-elections following Mliswa’s recalling from parliament by the ruling party.

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