President Mnangagwa, using his powers under the Electoral Act, last night announced that voting will continue today from 7am to 7pm in those wards in Harare and Manicaland that received local government ballot papers late in the day, or not at all, and so could not open or opened very late.
The delays also affected the voting in these wards for President and constituency MP as the stations there could not open until all ballot papers were present.
But the extension of voting will not affect the announcement of presidential election results, which has to be done within five days.
The late ballot papers were for some wards of local government elections in Harare, Bulawayo and Manicaland and the polling stations in these wards are the ones that will be open today to make sure that everyone can vote.
In some areas such as Warren Park in Harare, voting continued after 8pm when voting material came while at Haig Park Primary School, the material arrived late and ran out a few hours later.
In Manicaland and Bulawayo, there were similar challenges, hence the decision to extend voting in these wards so that everyone wanting to vote can get a chance.
Realising that some in the wards had not voted and their
rights to vote infringed, President Mnangagwa through a Statutory Instrument, last night declared that voting will continue today.
The President said it had been ascertained that certain polling stations for wards had not opened in the time and that the Electoral Act provides that “if for good cause shown it is not possible to open a polling station at 7am, then the polling station shall be opened at such later time but will be kept open for at least 12 hours continuously on polling day”.
President Mnangagwa said it was also realised that some polling stations in the affected wards would have to vote until the following day, if they got voting material, so that the 12 hours demanded by the Electoral Act were met.
With the Electoral Act giving the President power, by further proclamation in the Gazette to alter any day, time or place, he resolved to allow affected wards to vote today.
“Now therefore, under and by virtue of the powers vested in the President as aforesaid, I do, by this proclamation in respect of the affected polling stations for the wards listed in the schedule to this Proclamation fix August 24, 2023, as the last day of polling for the election to the office of President, the election of members of the National Assembly and election of councillors,” reads the Statutory Instrument in part.
In an interview last night, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said he was informed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that they would be unable to conclude voting in some wards yesterday.
He then approached the President to tell him that printing of these local government ballot papers would not finish before 9pm last night.
“Fidelity Printers had said they will not be able to finish printing earlier than 9pm, so when I spoke to ZEC, they requested me to speak to His Excellency to say ‘can he exercise his powers to issue that Statutory Instrument so that the rights of those affected citizens are realised and they vote’. We then had to draft that Statutory Instrument.”
However, Cde Ziyambi said the extension of voting in the affected wards from 7am to 7pm today, this “will not affect the electoral process”.
“The announcement will still be within five days for the Presidential results and for the other ones, they will be announced as voting is completed and they start counting.
Asked if today would be a holiday since yesterday was to allow people to vote, Cde Ziyambi said: “I don’t think so, but in those wards where they are voting, technically it will be.”