Delays mar vote with large turnout
Zimbabweans voted in a general election, despite some delays, amid soaring inflation during the campaign.
As the official closing time approached, some polling stations did not open, according to the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
The party’s candidate, Nelson Chamisa, has alleged “voter suppression”.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ten challengers, including Mr Chamisa.
The results must be announced within five days.
In order to win the presidency, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote.
On 2 October, if there is no outright winner, more than six million registered voters will choose between the top two candidates in a presidential run-off.
There was also an election of MPs and local councillors. Long queues formed well before the polls opened, with people eager to exercise their right to vote.
It took more than eight hours for some voters to receive their ballot papers. Frustrated others left.
An already controversial election could be further tainted by delays in Harare, the capital and a stronghold of the opposition.
Harare residents spoke about the harsh economic climate after voting on Wednesday.
The economy must be fixed, my children must be able to attend school, healthcare must be available. That’s what we’re voting for.” she said.
A young male voter said that he wanted “improvement in infrastructure in this country… we just want better than what we have”.
Many polling stations were delayed due to legal challenges filed by some candidates for local council seats, which caused the late delivery of ballot papers.
23% of polling stations in Harare opened on time at 7:00 local time (07:00 GMT). According to officials, 75% of Bulawayo’s shops were open by 8:00 in the second city.
The commission says that in late-starting places, voting hours will be extended until 19:00.
Voters in Harare reported being unable to find their polling stations.
Mnangagwa voted in Kwekwe, 175 kilometers (110 miles) south-west of Harare.
It would be foolish of me not to take it. Everyone who races, if they are going to race, is going to race to win, and I’m doing exactly that,” he told reporters.
During the election in Harare, Mr Chamisa said that there would be a new government in the country.
Moreover, he claimed that the authorities were “panicking”, adding that delays were occurring in urban areas where the CCC is most powerful.
The next day, he told journalists there had been “stone age, antiquated, analog rigging”.
Members of his party have also claimed that fake leaflets claiming to be produced by the CCC have been distributed.