The SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) has described this year’s elections as peaceful and calm, although a number of irregularities in need of improvement were cited.
Speaking at a press conference today, SEOM head DR. NEVERS MUMBA said 97% of polling stations which they observed were free from irregularities, while voting proceeded in an orderly manner in 95% of centres observed.
He also noted that some polling stations where not accessible to people with disabilities while pregnant women were not given a priority.
” 8 % of the polling stations observed were not accessible to voters living with disabilities.
“At 50% of the polling stations, voters living with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women were not given priority to vote.
“In 3% of polling stations observed, indelible ink was not checked on the voters before allowing them to cast their vote.
“At 97% of the polling stations observed, voting was free from irregularities.
“Voting proceeded in an orderly manner at 95% of the polling stations observed, he said.
He also said 64% of voting stations opened on time while other voting centres opened for more than 12 hours due to shortages of ballot papers in Harare and Bulawayo provinces.
“64% of voting stations opened on time, 36% did not open on time for the 07:00am stipulated opening time.
“Some polling stations opened more than 12 hours after the stipulated time. The reason provided by ZEC for this unprecedented development was the unavailability of ballot papers, particularly for the local authority elections, and also due to previous litigation.
“This challenge was, however specific to Harare and Bulawayo Provinces. Due to the delays, some voters left without casting their votes, while others opted to remain in the lengthy queues throughout the day and night.
“By 06:00am on 24 August 2023, some voters in these two provinces had still not voted. Consequently these delays also had a knock-on effect as they dissuaded voters from voting in the first place,” he said.
The SEOM made recommendations to ZEC which included the need to improve access to the voters roll to all political stake holders, the need to reduce nomination fees to enhance inclusivity for aspiring candidates, encourage women participation, and avail electoral materials in time.
They also recommend for equal coverage on state media.