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Ballot paper delays mar voting in Harare and Bulawayo

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube was among thousands of voters who had to temporarily turn back and head home or endure long hours in queue as widespread delays have marred the opening of polling stations across the country.
Polls will close at 7pm but there were reports of delays at some polling stations nationwide as the necessary documentation had not been delivered on time.

ZEC said that due to the delays, polling stations which opened late will have their voting times extended by the length of the delay.

“Delays in the opening have largely been caused by delays in printing of the ballot papers arising from court challenges. This has been the case with Harare and Bulawayo provinces,” ZEC said in a statement.

“The public is advised that all polling stations that opened late for reasons beyond the control of the presiding officer will remain open to cater for the period of the delay, keeping in mind the polling station must remain open for a continuous period of at least 12 hours on polling day,” the statement added.

At 12PM, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, standing for Zanu PF MP in Cowdray Park, arrived at his polling station, checked his name on voters roll and left. No ballot papers, no voting yet.

In Mutasa North Ward 28, voters were still waiting to vote as local government ballots were yet to be distributed across the ward, presenting problems relating to lighting and power later in the day.

At Ruwa Primary, the Election Resource Centre reported that Police had to be dispatched outside the polling station as some unidentified polling agents were recording names of people leaving the polling station. Culprits disappeared when police came out.

Commencement of voting was delayed at Bulawayo’s largest polling station, the Large City Hall, which had no ballot papers as of 9.30AM.

At Waterfalls Uplands shops tent, six people voted before they were advised that ballot papers had run out. At Mutare Junior polling station people were queuing outside as of 9.50AM as ballot papers had not yet arrived. Voters were still lining up at Waterfalls Primary School despite ballot papers being yet to be delivered as at 10.05AM.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it will take five days to announce the official results, although preliminary results are expected sooner.