The first constituency results were announced in Zimbabwe’s election on Thursday, following delays that led to a second day of voting in some areas and the arrest of civil society activists. Zimbabweans voted for president and lawmakers on Wednesday, with many hoping for change after years of economic hardship. However, analysts cautioned that the ruling ZANU-PF party was unlikely to loosen its grip on power. Less than 10 out of 210 parliamentary constituencies had reported results, making it too early to determine any national trends. Results in the presidential race were not expected for another day or two. Voting was extended in 40 wards, representing less than 1% of the total, due to late printing of ballot papers. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seeking a second term, faced Nelson Chamisa as his main challenger. Mnangagwa’s re-election bid came amid high inflation, currency depreciation, and unemployment. Despite widespread dissatisfaction with the government, the electoral playing field was heavily skewed in favor of ZANU-PF, which has a history of manipulating elections. A free and fair election was seen as a prerequisite for resolving Zimbabwe’s debt crisis and accessing loans from international lenders. The government and electoral commission insisted that the election would be clean.
In a separate development, police arrested 41 individuals and confiscated electronic equipment during raids on four locations in Harare. The police claimed that the equipment was being used unlawfully to tabulate election voting statistics and results. The targeted organizations included the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Election Resource Centre, and Team Pachedu, all of which were monitoring the vote in the interests of democracy. The police have been accused of partisan conduct in the past, with opposition rallies being banned or dispersed and government critics being arbitrarily arrested. RushHourDaily reporters observed minimal activity at the polling stations in the wards where voting was extended. It was unclear whether voters were unaware that the stations were open, had already voted, or had given up. The confusion surrounding the extended voting period was seen as jeopardizing the integrity of the election and the electoral commission. Eldred Masungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, described the situation as an institutional disaster that could prevent some individuals from voting due to time and resource constraints.
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