BULAWAYO – The voting process in Bulawayo metropolitan Province started smoothly, and on time — with people braving the inclement weather to cast their votes.
By 7am, long winding queues had formed at polling stations in the western suburbs — with adults and the elderly making most of the voting population, while youths were conspicuous for their absence.
Around 3pm, most of the queues at various polling stations had disappeared save for a few where queues also remained relatively small.
In the eastern suburbs, the situation was the same as people woke up early to cast their vote albeit small queues at many centres.
At the Large and Small City Hall polling stations in the city centre long winding queues could be seen early in the morning but dwindled to a trickle as the day progressed.
Police officers who were unable to cast their ballots during the special voting process could be seen forming separate queues at different polling stations in the afternoon.
The Daily News witnessed some of the police officers being turned away because they had chosen wrong wards.
But of interest was how other polling stations within the same ward were overwhelmed by voters while some had relatively small queues.
At around 3pm, most polling stations in the city had recorded 500 votes, while some still recorded a margin as low as 207 voters.
While in the morning people at some polling stations were complaining of slow pace of the queue, by 3pm most stations were cleared with voters trickling in one by one.
For instance, at the Large City Hall 466 people had voted by 3pm. At the adjacent Small City Hall 295, had voted while 106 had been turned away mainly due to trying to vote at a wrong ward.
The Daily News’ observed that around the city, the process was peaceful except for some polling stations where campaign posters for different political parties had to be defaced or pulled down to conform to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission laws.
President of the smaller formation of MDC Welshman Ncube cast his vote just after 10am at Stanley Square in Bulawayo.
Speaking to journalists soon after casting his ballot, Ncube said he was happy with the process although they were some areas that had experienced teething problems.
“So far we are happy with all the reports we are getting from across the country with the exception of a few teething problems around polling agents not being allowed to get into the polling stations.
Our understanding is the process is going on smoothly. Assuming that there will be queues by 7pm the laws should be followed that everyone should be allowed to vote.” Ncube said.
On his reaction to President Mugabe’s pledge to surrender if defeated Ncube said: “Let us announce the results as quickly and as expeditiously as possible and let us then respect the outcome thereafter. Whoever emerges the winner let every Zimbabwean respect that and wish them well in forming the next government.”