Mwenezi – The people of Mwenezi East constituency continued voting in the National Assembly by-election held on Saturday 8 April 2017. The Election Resource Centre (ERC), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and the Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) observed the by-election with monitors currently working in the constituency. Observers include 92 trained human rights monitors and a mobile team of observers deployed by the three organizations in the constituency.
The three organisations set up an election situation room at the ZimRights offices, specifically to receive and process data relayed by the mobile teams monitoring the election. Among other communication channels, the monitors made use of a private national radio station, Star FM, to update stakeholders on the Mwenezi East by-election.
The final radio cross over to Star FM will be conducted after the closure of polling stations at 19:10 hours.
Summary of observations by 16:00 hours
- Turned away voters – A significant number of prospective voters were turned away or redirected for failure to locate their polling stations. This may be a reflection of inadequate voter education regarding polling station based voting.
Of note was the turning away of one of the contestants Joosbi Omar of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu-PF). He was turned away from two polling stations at Chatagwi Primary School and Vilivilli Primary School, before he finally voted at Muzhanjire Primary School.
Some of the redirected voters were from Matibi Mission in Ward 3, Negari Primary School, and Musaverema Primary School and had to walk approximately 5-10 km to their designated polling stations. Other voters were turned away from polling stations such as Negari Primary School, and Ruzamba Primary School owing to defaced identity documents.
- Uncooperative Polling Officials – At Chingami Primary School in Ward 5 of Mwenezi East, the Presiding Officer was not cooperative, refusing to give accredited local observers details of voting statistics. The incident was reported to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) command centre in the constituency and later resolved.
- Intimidation – At Tafara Primary School polling station, a ZANU PF youth identified as Chikava reportedly intimidated voters to vote in a particular manner.
- Voter Turnout – According to ZEC, the average voter turnout as of 12:00 hours was about 50%