‘Tension palpable in Maramba Pfungwe’

HIGH turnouts were recorded in Maramba Pfungwe, in Mashonaland East province, as MDC-T polling agents deployed to supervise the elections fear for their lives ahead of counting tonight after polling closes at 7pm.

Faith Zaba

More than 400 people had voted by midday at Maramba secondary school, more than 600 at Sowa turn off by 1 pm, close to 650 at Gowa business centre at 2pm and more than 400 at Chaparadza school at 330 pm.

Party polling agents at Maramba and Sowa polling stations said the figure could go as high as a 1000 by end of day today when polling closes.

However, most of the polling stations in Pfungwe district had cleared the long queues, which in some areas started forming as early as 1 am.

At Maramba secondary school, voters started queuing around 1 am and when the Zimbabwe Independent crew visited the polling station, villagers who had arrived at the polling station around 4 am were still to be served at midday. There was a long winding queue of more than 200 people.

Meanwhile, at Sowa turn off, people were voting by villages and people would form two queues according to their gender.

MDC-T polling agent Calvin Motsi, who arrived in Mutawatawa last night and is stationed at Sowa turn off polling station, said tension between the two parties is at knife-edge.

“I can’t wait for this election to be over. I am so scared and I just want to go back to Harare. Kuno kutyisa (it is scary here), you can almost touch the tension,” he said.

“We arrived last night in three commuter omnibus vehicles. We are 54 polling agents deployed in Maramba Pfungwe. When Zanu PF youths got wind that we had arrived, they came and tried to intimidate us. We then went to the command centre seeking protection from the police there. They did nothing. We sat there till about 10 pm but we were chased away by the police, who told us to find another shelter because they wanted to lock up.”

“We eventually looked for the MDC-T district chairperson where we spent the night.”

Motsi said there was an incident that morning where he witnessed a Zanu PF official campaigning in the queue in violation of the Electoral Act, which prohibits campaigning at a polling station.

At Mutata secondary school, Japajapa pre-school and Nyakarowa schools, there were discrepancies around the way elderly people were being assisted, where they were allegedly being influenced on who to vote for. More than 120 people were assisted at Sowa turn-off by 1 pm.

A Zanu PF polling agent at Sowa, who refused to be named, said for the first time MDC-T was able to field candidates in 15 of the 17 wards and send polling agents to Maramba Pfungwe.

“This place has always been a Zanu PF stronghold but you never know this time. Things have changed slightly. What has happened this time round has never happened before (when MDC T failed to field candidates). This time we have 15 MDC-T aspiring councillors. The chefs have to start asking themselves what they are doing wrong and why people have shifted their support to MDC-T.”

In Rushinga and Mt Darwin in Mashonaland Central queues had by 4pm been cleared.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission presiding officers in the two constituencies refused to disclose the total number of people who voted today.

Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee,  officers could seen sitting some 300 metres from the polling stations, after Zec refused to accredit them.

 

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