Zim woman holds back tears after voting

2013-07-31 08:28

Harare - Zimbabweans began casting ballots on Wednesday in a fiercely contested election dominated by Robert Mugabe's bid to extend his 33-year rule and overshadowed by suspicions of vote rigging.

The 89-year-old president, Africa's oldest leader, is running for election for the seventh and perhaps final time, after a series of violent crackdowns, economic crises and suspect elections.

This time Mugabe vowed to step down if he lost and claimed the army - long the bulwark of his rule - would also respect any victory for Morgan Tsvangirai, his perennial rival.

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But few are taking him at his word.

Even Tsvangirai, who was forced out of the race in 2008 after 200 of his supporters were killed, told CNN he took Mugabe's promise "with a pinch of salt".

Determined to cast their ballots, voters, some wrapped in blankets on a cold winter morning, started queuing up at least four hours before polling stations opened.

Voting appeared to be brisk in many urban areas, which have traditionally recorded strong support for Tsvangirai.

At polling stations set up in green tents on an open field in Mbare, the capital's oldest township, several hundreds were standing in line.

At Epworth, a Harare township, 66-year-old Ellen Zhakata held back her tears after voting.

"I am happy to have cast my vote. I just want an end to the problems in our country," she said. "All my children are outside the country because of the economic troubles here. I am so lonely. How I wish they could be working here."

Economic crisis

Millions of Zimbabwean were forced to migrate to find work elsewhere after an economic crisis which was exacerbated by the violence-marred 2008 elections.

Some 6.4 million people, around half of the population of 12.9 million Zimbabweans, are eligible to vote at 9,670 polling stations across the country.

A candidate needs 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off and both Mugabe and Tsvangirai appear confident they can manage that feat.

Mugabe has focused his campaign on bashing homosexuals and on promises to widen the redistribution of wealth to poor black Zimbabweans.

Amid recovery from an economic crisis that saw mass unemployment and galloping inflation, Mugabe loyalists insist their hero is "tried and tested".

Credible opinion polls are rare, but according to one survey by the US-based Williams firm in March-April, Mugabe could be in for a rough ride.

In a survey of 800 Zimbabweans, 61% said they had a favourable view of the MDC compared with 27% for Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

The poll showed Tsvangirai leading in seven of 10 provinces and that only 34% of those who voted for Mugabe in 2008 back him for president this time around.

Tsvangirai hopes his plans to lure back foreign investors, create a million jobs in five years and improve public services will deliver a long-awaited victory.

Polling stations will close at 19:00. Final results are expected with five days.

The elections will also chose lawmakers and local government councillors.

In June, the Research and Advocacy Unit - an NGO - reported the existing roll included one million dead voters or people who have emigrated, as well as over 100 000 people aged over 100 years old.

For all Zimbabwe election stories please visit our Zimbabwe Special Report Page.

  • Thulasizwe Khumalo - 2013-07-31 08:50

    I wish Morgan and his party to win. I hope the people of Zim will vote for him. long live MDC long live !

  • Staczen Ngoeper - 2013-07-31 08:52

    Sorry mama,this time around that devil advocate mugabe is going down no ways,he is going down,and your children wil be back soon,you'll again be a happy family.

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-07-31 09:24

      Just voted for Mugabe about an hour ago!! And you think this is real person mentioned above? Read between the lines. More South Africans seem to like Morgan. Why? Could it be that they can identify with him being promiscuous hence remind them of their own Zuma? Or like majority South Africans they need approval from a white man before doing anything? Or could it be that he is as dump as their own politicians? Why do you personally identify with him Staczen?

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-07-31 09:38

      Isaac, one man's dictator is another man's liberator. whats so sad about people like you is that you preach "democracy" but only if it means only supporting your beliefs. Unfortunately it doesnt work like that. You feelings should not be the standard, so be sick all you want, as if we care

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-07-31 09:48

      The problem with people like you Isaac is you have only one side of the Zimbabwean history you want to know, believe in and peddle. Which is fair and square. We are the ordinary people on the street and we are the other side, thats why Morgan has never had a majority in Zimbabwe. He has also lost a parliamentary election seat twice in his own home constituency of Buhera. Means his own relatives couldnt trust him to be their own member of parliament, twice. You guys have hidden agendas on Zimbabwe, and we Zimbabweans have our own agenda.

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-07-31 10:12

      I think you are generalising to prove your point. Zimbabweans in RSA are not on state welfare and if they get jobs its because they are skilled, just like hordes of Indians at Multichoice and Chinese at Cell C. Secondly, there are more or less number of Congolese refuguees in RSA, whose kids attend your schools freely, Yeoville Boys (govt) offering French lessons to accommodate them is an example, they get free health, Zimbabweans dont. My point, never heard a white South African complain about them being a burden on the national fiscus. Could it because you dont care because their country is in perpetual turmoil due to undisputed interference from France and Belgium so the black burden is tolerated because the source of the problem is white? and in Zimbabwe the problem is how Mugabe stood up against whites? I dont owe you any gratitude Isaac despite the fact that I have a corporate job in telecoms in RSA. I have it because i have the right skills, not because I am Zimbabwean. Just like Dereck Van Damme is American (by the way there so many in telecoms sector in rsa) and works in RSA because he has the right skills not because his white and or American. Does he (and many others) owe you any gratitude also?

      Devout Lecturer - 2013-07-31 10:51

      Don't be fooled by this Tinavo Magaisa guy... He is barking from johannesburg hez valley. He hasnt even gone to zim to vote. Its surprising that he insults south africans and yet he is enjoying the luxury of JHB. Go home, Enda Kumba and dont come back. Asijiki Pasi ne ma Dictator!!

      TinavoMagaisa - 2013-07-31 11:08

      You are guys have resorted to personal insults because i dont share your political views. Amazing

  • Abram Mothothi Mamabolo - 2013-07-31 09:25

    We wish MDC to accept defeat, is up to the people of zimbabwe who they choose not the imperialist

  • Barney Dino - 2013-07-31 09:31

    I really hope that this can be a new beginning for Zim, really, that country has so much potential, it can become the economic powerhouse it once was with the right leadership and guidance. But it will never happen while Mugabe is there. Why would you want to rule at the age og 89??? It makes no sense, unless its only about stealing the wealth. Really..please vote right.

  • Wekunetsa Münétsié - 2013-07-31 09:37

    Instead of telling us the story you're telling us about Zanu pf come on be realistic

  • Abram Russel Baloyi - 2013-07-31 10:29

    This time the winner must be the people of Zimbabwe, the looser must accept defeat, we really need something positive from Africa, after the troubles in Egypt

  • Tawanda Moyo - 2013-07-31 12:14

    this election is for us to decide, as zimbabweans. part of that is removing the bad eggs from government. see their crimes here:

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