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Zimbabweans have less than an hour to make their marks

Thousands of eligible voters have been making their marks at over 10,000 polling stations since the early hours and now all stations will close at 7 pm.

Voting day in Zimbabwe's elections of 30 July, 2018. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

HARARE – Zimbabweans now have less than an hour to cast their ballots before polling stations close on Monday evening.

Thousands of eligible voters have been making their marks at over 10,000 polling stations since the early hours.

The two front-runners are incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long time Robert Mugabe ally, who succeeded him after a military take over last year as well as MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

WATCH: Zimbabwe goes to polls

Mnangagwa and Chamisa have been involved in public spats during campaigning with both confident of a win.

They are now under investigation for violating the Electoral Act after Sunday's displays of public criticism.

The Electoral Act prohibits this conduct 24 hours before elections.

Thousands of eligible voters started queuing from around 6 am at one of the polling stations that Eyewitness News visited in Kuwadzana and enthusiastically rushed through the gates once the stations opened.

But many were even more excited when Nelson Chamisa arrived to cast his ballot.

Much like the scenes over the past few days, Chamisa again declared victory, reiterating that a Zanu-PF win is impossible.

“I’ve said that we’ve won this election, I’m only here to confirm that we’re ready to lead, govern and we’re ready for a new Zimbabwe.”

PEACE

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says so far the election process has been characterised by a peaceful atmosphere.

The commission’s Priscilla Chigumba also confirmed that two presidential candidates are being investigated for violating the Electoral Act.

“On 29 July 2018, at least two of the presidential candidates gave statements which were published in the news media which might be interpreted as campaigning. These matters have been referred to the attention of the police for investigation as to whether the Electoral Act and/or the Electoral Code of Conduct may have been violated.”

The commission says there was a higher voter turnout at most polling stations on Monday morning and it's hoping some of the over five million people registered to vote who haven't yet cast their ballots will do so before polling stations close at 7 pm.

CHAMISA EXCITED

Chamisa says he's excited about the peaceful elections so far, but he's once again raised concerns about irregularities in the electoral process.

Chamisa's spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda gave an update. He says the MDC Alliance leader is satisfied with the voting so far.

“He’s excited that the people of this country have shown remarkable resilience. He’s also encouraged that the voting process has been largely peaceful.”

But he says Chamisa still has concerns about irregularities in the electoral process.

“There are reports of pre-marked ballots that the president is concerned about.”

He claims there are tactics to frustrate voters and that local chiefs are being used as polling officers in some locations.

The European Union's chief observer has described Zimbabwe’s historic election as very smooth in some cases but totally disorganised in others.

Elmar Brok says many voters, particularly young women, have left voting queues in frustration at long delays and that his mission has not yet reached a conclusion on how to judge the vote.

MUGABE

The leaders of two major parties in Zimbabwe have been at each other’s throats throughout the campaign period but its former president Mugabe’s criticism of his successor that left the air tense within Zanu-PF.

Following this, the Secretary-General of the War Veteran’s Association Victor Matemanda responded to speculation of Mugabe’s alleged endorsement of Chamisa.

“The agenda of the MDC Alliance from the onset was to remove Mugabe and they failed on their own, we removed Mugabe, they came to support.”

Mugabe denied meeting Chamisa but attacked his party’s current leadership, saying he would not vote for people who tormented him and his family.

“Do I prefer MDC or AD or Zanu-PF? I can’t vote for Zanu-PF.”

But President Mnangagwa says despite the harsh criticism from the former leader, he would still engage with him.

“He’s a citizen of this country and I’d engage him any time, not because there’s an election.”

Mnangagwa voted in Kwekwe, while Mugabe cast his ballot in Highfield.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)