‘Everything alright so far’ in Zimbabwe vote: Observer

March 29th, 2008 - 6:54 pm ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, March 29 (DPA) Voting in Zimbabwe’s hardest-fought elections since independence was described as largely peaceful by observers Saturday with concerns mainly related to the slow pace of voting. “So far it’s peaceful and everything is alright,” Kingsley Mamabolo, head of the South African contingent of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM), told DPA, declining to comment further until after the end of voting.

SADC is the 14-nation Southern African Development Community.

Around 5.9 million Zimbabweans are listed as registered to vote in the polls, in which 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe faces the strongest challenge yet to his 28-year rule from two candidates: opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni.

Voting is slow because Zimbabweans are voting in four elections at once - presidential, House of Assembly, senatorial and local councils. Queues formed outside around 9,000 polling stations nationwide from as early as 3 a.m. in some cases.

Nerva Ndlovu, a South African-based Zimbabwean who returned home to Bulawayo to vote, said although he had taken just five minutes to mark three ballot slips - he got no ballot paper for the council election - elderly people were taking 15-20 minutes.

“There is no sign of intimidation at all,” Nldovu, a supporter of Makoni, said.

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