Zanu PF’s election exit polls irk watchdogs

Zanu PF headquarters


ELECTION watchdogs yesterday raised concern over voter intimidation by Zanu PF after the ruling party set up exit polls to document names of citizens, ID numbers and contact details after they cast their votes.

An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited polling stations.

It is usually carried by neutral agents or the media to predict the outcome of polls.

In a report issued yesterday, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and Election Resource Centre (ERC) said they recorded cases of voter intimidation across the country.

“Observers also reported on the presence of Zanu PF which is manning exit polls and recording names of voters,” they noted.

“Observers alleged that the exercise is intimidating to the voters. Social media is awash with numerious videos capturing Zanu PF activists setting up their exit polls branded in party regalia.”

According to the Electoral Act, it is illegal to wear or have party symbols displayed near polling stations on the day of polling.

“An isolated incident of a Zesn observer was beaten up in Gutu West, in Masvingo province. At some polling stations where ERC and Zesn are stationed, long queues were observed from early morning, with some polling stations not yet open by 1pm and voters patiently waiting to cast their vote.

“For example in Harare Glen View 4 Primary School, Warren Park, Haig Park Primary School, Glen Norah, among others, Tsvingwe Primary School in Mutasa South; Mutasa Central, Dangamvura, St Paul, Bait Hall and Rujeko in Mutare, Manicaland province; Baines Primary School and Queen Elizabeth Primary School — Nkulumane in Bulawayo Metropolitan province, among others.

“Furthermore, ERC and Zesn observed the late opening of polling stations, which is disproportionately concentrated in urban centres, particularly Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan provinces, and represents a substantial voting population.

“At least 11% of observers across the country reported that their polling stations did not open until after 8am, with 7% reporting significant delays where the polling stations had not yet opened by 9am, over two hours after the official opening time.

“Zec has acknowledged the late openings in polling, attributed them to missing local authority ballot papers.

“While Zec has announced that stations afflicted by delays may stay open late after the traditional 7pm closing time, this problem nonetheless seriously disenfranchises voters in those areas who may not be able to wait in long queues for hours, or risk voting late at night.”

Their report added: “While observers reported a relatively routine set-up process in the polling stations that opened on time, the acute disparity of voting delays between urban centres and the rest of the country raises questions regarding voter equity and access.”


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