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Zimbabwe: Harare Election Day observation

22.08.2018
Rishabh Sethi, India and Volker Tschapke, Germany were invited by the Association for Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC) as international observers to monitor Harmonized Elections 2018 in ZImbabwe. Later on, we were randomly teamed up to perform observation in Harare during the election day. We would like to emphasize - we reported only about the situation and the things we witnessed ourselves. We were neither excited to listen to gossips, hair rising stories, and someone’s assumptions nor report something we did not observe.
In this article, we aim to share impressions about the field observation at polling stations during the voting day to illustrate the compliance of Zimbabwe Harmonized Elections 2018 to Zimbabwe’s national laws.

On July 30, 2018, we visited our first two polling stations at 8:00 am in the morning: PARIRENYATWA HOSPITAL Polling stations A&B.

It was unexpectedly quiet, we saw no queues there but only a lonely policeman to provide a proper security. The polling station staff and the presiding officer were so helpful and cooperative to all the voters, international and local observers, and the election agents. We interviewed the presiding officer about the stats and filled in our special internal AFRIC form, which consisted of 38 items to report. After visiting every polling station we had to submit forms to AFRIC coordination team.


As the day went we observed totally 8 polling stations, including:

  • DAVID LIVINGSTONE PRIMARY SCHOOL A & B
  • BLAKISTON JUNIOR SCHOOL A & B
  • AVONDALE PRIMARY SCHOOL A & B

We were also interviewed by the international journalists to share our thoughts, views and the observation results.

While observing we noticed a huge excitement among the youth of the country to come out and cast their vote for the future betterment of their country. There was a greater turnout of female voters as compared to males! The polling stations were accessible to the senior citizens and people with disability. The process of the voting was well organized and voters-friendly to different age groups. We also noticed that the peak voting activity was — morning! In just 4.5 hours since the opening, there were more than 50% voting already done in the 2 polling station which is a great turnover for the country with such a dark voting history. And by the end of the day, it was about 90% voting done! The turnout number is really high.

During our observation, we got a chance to interact with the general public, local observers, election agents, diplomat observers from various embassies and other International observers from different organizations such as European Union, SADC, and AFRICAN UNION.
We also observed the counting process of ballot papers throughout the night with other local observers and elections agents and it was totally transparent. There was only a mistake with 3 ballot papers during the counting process of president votes and all present observers agreed for recounting. After the counting was done and all forms filled in, they posted results outside of the polling station. The numbers announced by the polling station team matched the calculations of everyone present in the counting room.
Whoever won, the Zimbabwe Election commission did a good job in conducting the elections in a very successful and peaceful manner. In spite of disagreements between the leading candidates, there was no single news of violence during the election day and we consider it as a large improvement for Zimbabwe.

 

Er. RISHABH SETHI, AFRIC Observer

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