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Low voter numbers cast shadow over Saturday by-elections

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Harare East and Mount Pleasant constituencies saw low voter turnout in Saturday’s by-elections, with 15.2% and 11.6% respectively, following the resignation of two Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators.

ZANU-PF candidates won both seats, marking a shift in areas traditionally held by the opposition.

The by-elections were necessitated by the departure of CCC’s Fadzayi Mahere and Allan Markham from the National Assembly. ZANU-PF’s Mutimbanyoka Kiven and Mashavave George secured the constituencies with leads of 1,559 and 2,040 votes.

Harare East had predominantly been won by opposition parties since 2000, Zanu-PF previously won the seat in the 2015 by-election when Terrence Mukupe of Zanu-PF was declared the winner.

Mt Pleasant has also been an opposition stronghold since 2008, with Zanu-PF winning the seat in 2013 when Jameson Timba of the opposition MDC-T (3 817) lost to Jaisson Passade of anu-PF (7 946).

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) urged citizens to exercise their voting rights, expressing concern over the low turnout.

“Members of the public are encouraged to fully utilise their constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights by, among other things, participating in voting when elections are conducted,” ZESN said in its preliminary report.

Despite the lackluster participation, the electoral process was notably peaceful, with no reports of violence or intimidation from candidates or their supporters, ZESN said.

Zanu-PF’s campaign efforts were robust, with rallies and events held in both constituencies. Notably, Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga led rallies in Mount Pleasant and Harare East, respectively.

Independent candidate Ropafadzo Cheza had mobile teams around Harare East with mobile hailers as part of her campaign strategy. Cheza and Mamuse, for Harare East and Mt Pleasant, respectively, were calling on voters to support former CCC leader Nelson Chamisa by casting their votes in their favour, ZESN observed.