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Observers Cite Serious Anomalies in Zimbabwe's Parly By-Elections

FILE - Zimbabwean women react as they wait to casts their votes at a polling station in Domboshava, about 45 km (28 miles) north of Harare, July 31, 2013.

The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) says the just-ended Wedza North by-election has exposed lack of meaningful progress in electoral reforms in Zimbabwe, setting the stage for potential clashes and disputes between Zanu PF and opposition parties in future.

In a statement, ZESN, which observed the by-election and declared the poll as a peaceful and orderly electoral process, was quick to cite unprocedural activities such as block voting. Under block voting, it says people were being allegedly instructed to vote for specific candidates before they visited polling stations.

The organization noted that it was worried about the use of controversial voting slips, which surfaced during the 2013 general elections.

ZESN also says there is need for voter education to allow voters in need of assistance to bring their preferred assistant. It called for the prosecution of those found to be abusing the provision by faking illiteracy for various reasons.

ZESN further called upon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to continuously update the voters roll to eliminate the use of registration slips. The main opposition parties are boycotting the by-elections and future polls, citing most of these problems.

Three opposition political parties that contested the Wedza North by-election failed to deploy party agents in polling stations to observe the voting and counting process.

Efforts to get a comment from ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau were futile as her mobile phone was not reachable.

Spokesman Maddoack Chivasa of the opposition National Constitutional Assembly, which contested the by-elections, told VOA Studio 7 that voter intimidation by Zanu-PF is still rampant.

Zanu PF candidate, David Musabayana won the Wedza North by-election after garnering 9,021 votes against 178 polled by Chikukwa Mudzingwa of the NCA, 140 by Tichaona Makara of Transform Zimbabwe and 88 for Precious Manimanzi of the Freedom Front.

The constituency fell vacant following the death of Zanu-PF’s Simon Musanhu. Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo in an interview with the Sunday Mail called the victory impressive and vowed the opposition will be vanquished.