300 000+ turned away at Zim polls

Harare – At least 305 000 Zimbabwean voters were turned away and 206 000 received assistance from election officials during last week's disputed vote, organisers said on Thursday.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said nearly 3.5 million people cast their ballots in the 31 July polls, which extended President Robert Mugabe's 33-year rule.

The commission's statistics show the largest number of voters, 64 483, were turned away in the capital Harare.

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Urban areas have long been a stronghold of Mugabe's rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who claimed the vote was rigged.

Regular voters were reportedly turned away because their names were missing from the voters' roll, they were registered in another ward or they did not have adequate identification.

But independent poll monitors have reported widespread manipulation of the roll and said the real number of disenfranchised voters could be much higher.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said over 750,000 urban voters were missing from the electoral list, in what they described as "a systematic effort to disenfranchise an estimated million voters".

"A total of 99.97% of rural voters were registered while only 67.94% of urban voters were registered," said Solomon Zwana, chairperson of ZESN.

Rights groups say police forced some people they believed to be opposition supporters to feign illiteracy and seek the assistance of police officers or polling officials, with their votes going to Mugabe.

Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa.

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


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