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Analysis of the 2005 Zimbabwe Parliamentary Elections Polling Stations
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
March 24, 2005

See also report on polling stations by Zimbabwe Election Support Network

An analysis of the polling stations in Zimbabwe (2005) is on going and the following are highlights of some irregularities in the location of the Polling Stations. The location of these Stations raises eyebrows as it may leave room for vote rigging as well as voter intimidation.

It has been observed that fewer polling stations (with an average of about 30) have been allocated to urban constituencies regardless of the huge populations in these areas. It is very possible, that with the one-day voting period, most of the urban voters may not be able to vote.

Polling Stations in most rural areas have been located very close to each other with a distance of less than 5km from each other. For example, in Zvimba South Constituency, Stations like Kutama Day Primary, Kutama Day Secondary and Kutama Farm Primary are all under one area. The location of these stations may intimidate voters as others have argued that this may mean that every Traditional Leader in the area will have to go with "his people" to vote and if not in good books with the leader it will be difficult for one to vote. This also means that every person who goes to vote at that particular station will be under very close scrutiny from the traditional leaders.

Similarly, more polling stations have been set up in the "new" resettlement areas where most of the said "War-veterans" reside. It is believed in these areas there are supposed to be many Zanu PF supporters who participated in the land invasions. Hence, the ruling party is bound to have much support in these areas and as a result more Polling Stations than anticipated for have been sited in these areas. Such is the case for instance in Bindura, out of 83 Stations, 43 of these stations are sited in the "new" resettlement areas and the remainder are split between Bindura urban and Bindura rural. This gives the ruling party an enormous advantage as they have established more and more stations in the areas where they think they have a strong support base.

However, on a different note, the delimitation committee has merged Mbare East and West constituencies into one constituency and the reasons for this are best known to themselves. Also a new constituency named Manyame has been created and this is believed to be another area where Zanu PF has a strong support base. It is important to bear in mind that this new constituency is made up of the "new" resettlement areas, meaning most of the occupants of this new constituency are War-Veterans and Zanu PF youths/supporters.

In other urban constituencies, rural areas have been deliberately slotted in the urban constituencies so as to "dilute" the votes of the urban people, as it is a well-known fact that urban dwellers are most likely to vote against the ruling party. In Masvingo Central for example, it has been noted that areas like Shonganiso Primary School, which is only a few kilometers from Zaka, Chatikobo Primary School, Chenhowe Business Centre and Nemamwa Primary School, have all been slotted into Masvingo Urban Constituency. This has not only happened in Masvingo but in other areas also.

One can argue that some of the Polling Stations have been wrongly located and this was done deliberately so as to allow for vote rigging. For example, in Mutoko North it has been established that Mutoko Ruins have been turned into a Polling Station when it is a well-known fact that no one lives in the ruins. Should ballot boxes with large numbers of votes emerge from these areas (where there are no people) the legitimacy of these elections could be reasonably contested. It has been established as well that in this constituency, a homestead of one chief has also been turned into a Polling Station. This will obviously bar some people, especially members from the opposition, from voting as they are most likely not going to be welcomed at the Chief’s place.

In some areas homesteads have been turned into Polling Stations for example, Pazvakavambwa Homestead in Sanyati, Noah Kubvura Homestead, Tizora Homestead and Hodzi Homestead, all in Mudzi West Constituency.

Some National Youth Training Centers have been turned into Polling Stations to be. Some of the Youth Training Centers that have been turned into Polling Stations are Magamba Training Center (Mutasa South), Mashayamombe Training Center (Mhondoro), Kaguvi Training Center (Gweru rural), Chaminuka TC (Mount Darwin South), Mount View TC (Marondera East), Mbuya Nehanda TC (Seke) and lastly Mount Hampden TC (Manyame). These centers are known to be inaccessible to ordinary citizens. This will restrict the registered voters in these constituencies to the alternate polling stations. One might therefore assume that not all the people would be able to vote in one day particularly if there are serious delays at the "neutral" stations. Likewise, some Prison Farms have also been turned into polling Stations, for example, Mazowe Prison Farm.

Some Polling Stations are set in places like quarries where only a few people reside temporarily as workers. Manwick Quarry in Mutoko North is one such station. It is possible that this place would be closed on the voting day since it will be a holiday and most industrial companies are likely to close just before the Easter holiday and reopen after the Election Day.

Also, there are some centers that have been noted to be non-existant. Such places include Lot Hall in Mutoko North and Chachachunda Business Center in Hwange East.

The Presiding Officers as a norm are members of the Civil Service, but an analysis of the list of the presiding officer indicates that members of the Army have also been elected as Presiding Officers. It is not clear whether members of Zimbabwe National Army should be called "civil servants". The notion of employing members of the ZNA as Presiding Officers will leave room for voter intimidation particularly in the rural areas.

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