ZIMBABWEANS from all walks of life yesterday said they were hopeful for change as they cast their vote during the elections that will usher in a new President, Members of Parliament and councillors.
Those interviewed by NewsDay in different parts of the country said the elections were peaceful, although they complained of long winding queues and the snail’s pace at which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) polling officers were handing the election.
Rasheed Zhuwao of Manzou Farm in Mazowe South said there was no intimidation and hoped that they would not be chased away from their plots. “We want to co-exist peacefully with the former First Family and not this business of harassment and intimidation of people.”
In Beitbridge, Ambani Ndou of Majini said the atmosphere was very peaceful.
The same sentiments she echoed were echoed by Marylin Mudau also from Jompempi in Beitbridge.
Nkosibisa Ndlovu of Nkayi South said the process was calm and peaceful and there were no long queues.
In Redcliff Kwekwe, former Ziscosteel workers said they wanted a government that will open the plant so that they go back to their jobs.
Clifford Moyo from Chadcombe in Harare said he was looking forward to change, availability of money in banks and an end to continued economic hardships for Zimbabweans.
Tarisai Shumba from Hatfield said: “We Zimbabweans have been struggling for a long time and were all along patient. Our children are unemployed despite them being educated. We hope this election will bring about change and a better future.”
Senior member of the MDC Alliance, David Coltart, who voted at Burnside polling station in Bulawayo, claimed Zec officials’ slow pace could be a deliberate tactic employed in urban areas.
“We are worried about the tactics that may be employed. It seems the polling process is deliberately slow, making it difficult. Some people have been standing in the queue for over an hour and it has barely moved 50 metres. I guarantee this is not happening in Zanu PF strongholds,” he said.
At Burnside garage polling station in Bulawayo, Patrick Portbury confirmed he waited for two hours before voting.
In Makokoba, presiding officer at Stanley Hall, Nomathemba Ncube attributed the slow pace to the constituency having many elderly voters who had to be assisted.
Residents who had just cast their votes also complained that the lighting inside the polling stations was poor, while the colour on the ballot papers was dull, making it difficult to locate their preferred candidates.
Kiti Ndlovu said: “Even inside the polling booth, the space was dark and one had to tilt the paper for a clearer view. The polling stations needed light because it is dark inside and I struggled to see in the darkness.”
In Mashonaland Central, observers said the environment was generally peaceful, but a team from the Australian embassy raised concerns at the slow pace of voting at Harmony Farm tent in ward 16.
A virgin voter and Midlands State University graduate, Talent Hove (25), said as a youth, he was proud to partake in the process and said he was using his power to choose a leader who will take the nation into a new era and give young people a platform for better economic fortunes.
Kelvin Msimanga (31) said: “I am unemployed, I am parked at home and today I want transformation from my vote. I came here at 9am and I have voted. I am happy about my choice.”
A woman from Hopley on the outskirts of Harare said: “Now we can meet and chat with people after voting without fearing for our lives. Today I voted to see an improvement in our lives as Hopley residents. We have gone for years without proper roads, ablution facilities and piped water and title deeds to houses we have. We live in abject poverty, girls as young as nine years have ventured into sex work at KwaAnthony. We just hope after the elections these issues will be addressed.”
MDC Aliance leader Nelson Chamisa took to Twitter to complain about Zec officials’ sluggish pace.
“Victory is ours! Long winding queues in most parts of Harare. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to suppress and frustrate the urban vote. Good turn-out, but the people’s will being negated and undetermined due to these deliberate and unnecessary delays. We are in because #Godisinit.”