THERE was commotion at Makokoba polling station in Bulawayo on Monday when electricity went off during the voting process, prompting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officials to turn to candle light to enable residents to cast their ballot.
BY TALENT GUMPO
Voting proceeded in the dimly lit tent with residents complaining that they could hardly make out the candidates on the ballot papers.
Voting at this and a few other polling stations around the country overlapped the stipulated 7pm cut-off time, owing to a huge turnout.
Addressing journalists at the Election Situation Room (ESR) Press conference, Habbakkuk Trust director Dumisani Nkomo expressed dismay at the poor lighting that disadvantaged voters.
“The polling station was dimly lit by a candle, even the polling officers could not see each other and observers could hardly see anything.
“This was prevalent in most polling stations like Bradfield 1 and 2, Burnside, Lobengula West and Cowdray Park. We managed to do a survey of Sdojiwe flats pre-election day so that is an issue of concern for us,” he said.
Nkomo said violence broke out in some stations due to misunderstandings that erupted due to poor service by Zec officials.
“We visited about 10 to 15 polling stations, the last one being Efusini where violence and conflict broke out due to poor communication and poor lighting,” he said.
Nkomo said the poor lighting affected the ability of voters to see what was on the ballot paper, particularly the presidential ballot, and some voters said they could not see what was written on the other ballot papers.
Speaking at the same event, Reverend Useni Sibanda said the ESR received calls from residents in Makokoba, complaining that they waited in the queues for over two hours.
“We received calls from residents in Makokoba, who were complaining that they waited in queues for more than two hours owing to slow processing of voters,” Useni said.
“Our observers noted that there were long queues at some polling stations and this has led to some being open after 7pm.
Useni said gas lamps were provided in the polling kits for counting, but poor visibility affected the ability of observers and party agents to verify the ballots.