Africa Elections News Politics Zimbabwe

Voting Still Underway in Selected Zimbabwean Wards

On Thursday (Aug. 24), voting was still underway in Zimbabwe, where hourslong delays in distributing ballot papers forced the president to extend the general election by a day at dozens of polling stations.

Voting delays were mainly registered in the opposition’s urban strongholds.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission acknowledged the late distribution of ballot papers and blamed it on printing delays “arising from numerous court challenges.” Governing party activists and the opposition had brought a flurry of cases over who could run in both presidential and parliamentary elections.

Over 6 million registered voters have to choose the country’s next president, members of the national assembly and councillors.

Some polling stations opened two hours after the official closing time on Wednesday, while others suspended voting; and officials asked people to return in the morning.

When the news of the extension was confirmed, voters urged neighbors and relatives who had gone home for the night to return to cast their ballot.

Counting of ballots began at some polling stations on Wednesday (Aug. 23).

This is the second general election since the ouster of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe in a coup in 2017.

The southern African nation of 15 million people has vast mineral resources, including Africa’s largest reserves of lithium, a key component in making electric car batteries. But watchdogs have long alleged that widespread corruption and mismanagement have gutted much of the country’s potential.

Ahead of the election, opposition and rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused Mnangagwa of seeking to silence dissent amid rising tensions due to a currency crisis, a sharp hike in food prices, a weakening public health system and a lack of formal jobs.