Zimbabweans are voting in the referendum for a new constitution. NewsDay brings you the updates in real time.
10:21 am: Voting in Gwanda commenced peacefully with a group of vapostori women casting their votes first at Pipzkop.MIsa
10:22 am: Voting started at a slow pace in Chinhoyi polling stations visited by reporters with a sizable queue police officers also trying to cast their vote.
10:25 Reports claim that Harare East has started at a slow pace. However we are told that the number are now picking up
10:47 am: Voting took off to a slow start with no queues at most polling centres in Bulawayo.
The only noticeable queue of about 20 people was witnessed at the Large City Hall, the central polling centre in the city.
In the high density suburbs, only police officers could be seen milling around polling stations whilst polling officers had nothing to do.
A survey by The Standard revealed that most residents went about with their personal businesses with some going to church, vending and others pirating with their commuter omnibuses and taxis.
In separate interviews, residents who had cast their votes said they did so hoping that a new constitution will change their lives.
11: 00 am: Revealing information by Trudy Stevenson, Ambassador in Senegal
How I wish I could be with you tomorrow to vote and to watch how others vote in this major Referendum on the New Constitution for our country.
Unfortunately, I am thousands of miles away serving as your Ambassador in Senegal and the Gambia, and ZEC has announced that time was too short to allow government officials outside the country to vote, in this Referendum.
We are all very disappointed, but we hope that those able to vote will do so, freely and fairly, and that the result will take our country forward.
11:29 am: Low turnout in Glenview. At Glenview 5 polling station there are as few as 20 people.
Follow our multimedia element here. This is a collage of the timeline of events building up to 16 March.
You can also listen to this podcast. John Nyashanu weighs in with his booming voice:
11:50 am Voter turnout in Shurugwi is low save for villagers in Mukandapi who have been directed by the village head to vote for the constitution. Misa
11: 55 am: Voting in Matobo district is progressing slowly with the elderly people being the most visible. By 9am at Halale Primary School, five people had voted.
At Minda Mission, the eldely, particulary women where trickling in.
Most youths said they were not interested in voting as they knew little about the draft constitution.
11: 57 am: Police recruits swamp David Livingstone Primary School in Harare to vote on the referendum.
11: 58 am: PM Morgan Tsvangirai voted at 10 am at chamikuka primary school. NCA boss and leader of the no vote campaign professor Lovemore Madhuku voted Mt pleasant heights. Welshman Ncube voted at Courtney Selous primary school in Greendale
Our fans speak on our popular Facebook page. Here is a screenshot
A woman in Bulawayo proudly shows her voter’s ink. Voting is your right, she seems to be saying.
12: 50pm: “We are all equal according to this constitution. You have the right to life, i have the right to life.” – President Mugabe
12: 51 pm: Reports from Mbare show Chipangano is at work, forcing people to go and vote.
1: 40 pm: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the constitutional referendum is a step towards free and fair elections later this year.
Addressing journalists after casting his vote at Chitungwiza’s Chaminuka Primary School in St Mary’s, Tsvangirai said the referendum was a historic event since the constitutional movement was launched in 1997.
1: 42pm: Low turnout at polling stations in Mutare urban and surrounding areas
Polling stations opened as early as 7 am in the high-density areas.
However, turnout at most Dangamvura polling station is low with mostly elderly people casting their votes in the morning. There are a number of polling stations in the high-density suburbs. There is a small number of youths who are showing interest in voting.
There were less than three voters when this paper visited Zhakata bottle store polling station while there was a sizeable crowd mainly at Chirovakamwe primary school.
Easter Ushe who is the Returning Officer for Zhakata polling station said people were coming at intervals The Returning officer for Chirovakamwe Team A, Virginia Mhlanga said they were expecting the number to increase later midday.
However the situation is different at Meikles park were over 660 people have so far casted their vote by 11:35. The officers said they opened at 7am and since them, many people are coming to cast their votes.
There is a long winding queue and the reason being that the polling is at the city centre where informal business is operating.
In Sakubva, Fern Valley and Zimunya the turnout is very low again.
People are concentrating on their business. They said they are fed up of politics and want to focus on working hard for their familes.
Those interviewed professed ignorance, saying they were not familiar with the contents of the draft constitution. They blamed COPAC for not giving them enough time to study the document.
Those who have voted said they casted their vote for certain clauses which they either heard by friends or their political parties.
There has been no incidence of violence reported so far. Shops and banks are closed but it is business as usual for retail and food outlets. Those who work for indigenous business people said they were not given time to vote despite the day being declared a public holiday.
Watch video of an analysis of what it means for Zimbabwe to be voting today:
And the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and wife, Elizabeth Macheka cast their votes in Chitungwiza.
2: 56pm A Catholic sister was there to monitor the voting
As from 7am to 11am 19422 people had cast their votes in Matabeleland
South, the provincial elections officer Joram Nyathi
confirmed at 1:40pm.
“There 13 constituencies here and we have 622 polling stations. As at 11am 19422 people had voted while 500 were turned away due to various reasons such as having no identity particulars, being aliens, bringing drivers’ licenses,and for being below the age of 18years,”said Nyathi.
Voter turnout is very low with most polling stations reporting figures below hundred by mid- day in the densely populated suburbs of Mbizo and Amaveni.
Only Tasungana polling station had recorded a total of 115 votes by midday with seven having been turned away for various reasons mostly for bringing defaced Identity cards.
Other polling stations had less than 80 people who had voted with absolutely no queues forming outside any polling station here.
There were no incidents as voting progressed smoothly with a total lack of excitement on those participating.
Zimbabwean citizens of foreign decent referred to as aliens were also being denied their right to vote which right they will only enjoy if the Copac draft constitution becomes the supreme law.
3: 04pm: In Mabvuku/Tafara constituency there was voter apathy, there were no queues and people were trickling in a slow pace.
Several people were being turned away because they are aliens and they were the larger number of voters.
At Chikurubi Support Unit there was a fairly long queue and the voting process was moving at a slow pace there.
Tsinhirwano A school (Mabvuku) a total of 51 people were turned away by 12 midday because they were aliens and Charles James of Malawian descent who spoke to The Standard said:
“We came in our large numbers because we expected to be allowed to vote for the new constitution.”
People who spoke to the Standard who had also been turned away said they had brought expired passports, photocopies of Id’s and drivers licenses.
The voter turn out was very low in most areas in Norton, Chegutu, Kadoma and Muzvezve.
There was quite a number of potential voters who were turned away for
various reasons among them being underage.
There was heavy presence of police officers at most polling stations.
3: 21pm Proud that our hashtag #zimbabwedecides is trending on twitter. Follow us on @newsdayzimbabwe.
4:01pm: Reports from Bulawayo say Police dispersed a Burial Society meeting place which was taking place in Cowdrey Park, Byo.
4:02pm: 237 people vote Tshino Primary School in Tsholotsho and six were turned away.
5:37pm: ZEC says at 10am 22,427 had voted in Bulawayo and there were 945 spoiled ballots.
Some young men waiting to cast their vote at Nyamandlovu primary school.
Nyamandlovu voting centre
6: 02pm: A total of 1,312,738 votes were cast in the 2000 referendum.
6: 03pm: Counting of the ballots for the constitutional referendum is set to begin today, with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announcing that results were expected within five days.
Newly appointed ZEC chairperson, Rita Makarau said counting was expected to start at 7pm, but could be delayed in areas were voting had started late.
6:05pm: THE MDC-T has expressed concern at what it termed irregularities before and during today’s referendum, claiming there were cases of violence and some of its members were intimidated.
The party’s secretary general, Tendai Biti told a press conference that there were concerned by the way some members of Zanu PF viewed the referendum, while also claiming there had been “omissions by electoral officials”.
6:30pm update: 30 minutes left and the polls will be closed. Rush and vote.
AND THE POLLS CLOSE
Updates were brought to you by John Mokwetsi, Bethel Goka, Tinotenda Samukange and the amazing team of journalists at The Standard.