Zimbabweans turned away from polls in big numbers: watchdog

March 30th, 2008 - 1:25 am ICT by admin  

Harare/Johannesburg, March 29 (DPA) A Zimbabwean election watchdog said many people had been turned away from polling stations during voting in the country’s watershed elections Saturday because of confusion over where they should vote. “It seems like there’s a high voter turnout and a lot of people got turned away on the basis of ward (district) boundaries,” Noel Kututwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), told a press conference in Harare, without giving estimates for turnout or the number of people turned away.

The confusion occurred because of a change in the election law obliging voters to cast their ballot in the ward in which they reside. In previous elections they could vote in any ward in their constituency.

Otherwise, there had been “minimal problems”, Kututwa said. “People have freely gone to polling stations and cast their votes.”

ZESN attributed the absence of queues in some places to the near doubling of polling stations since the last presidential polls in 2002, from 5,000 to 9,400 in this election.

ZESN also said the voters’ roll, which lists 5.9 million, was probably inflated.

The opposition has been claiming for weeks the voters’ roll is stuffed with the names of many dead or fictitious people. Among the dead to be registered as eligible to vote is deceased former Prime Minister Ian Smith.

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