93% party agents got presidential results – ZESN survey

ZESN director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava

INDEPENDENT poll watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says polling agents at 93% of stations it surveyed on voting day had received records of the presidential results.

“At 97% and 99% of polling stations, respectively, MDC Alliance and ZANU-PF party agents signed the presidential results form,” ZESN said in a preliminary assessment.

“At 93% of polling stations, all party agents present were given a copy of the presidential results form. At most polling stations, the presidential results were posted immediately after counting finished.”

However, ZESN said the presidential returns were posted less frequently for Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces.

ZESN said it had deployed 6,500 observers across the country for the election. The preliminary report is based on reports from a sample of 750 polling stations. At the time of reporting, results from 739 stations were available, ZESN said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has started to releasing results from the July 30 election today just before 1700 CAT. The returns showed the ruling ZANU-PF taking an early lead in the parliamentary race.

MDC Alliance agents signed the presidential results form at 97% of the surveyed polling stations, while their ZANU-PF counterparts signed at 99% of the voting posts. At 93% of polling stations, all party agents present got copies of the presidential results.

However, the greatest interest remains on the presidential contest, which pits Emmerson Mnangagwa, the incumbent, his main rival Nelson Chamisa and 21 other candidates.

An Afrobarometer pre-poll survey projected a close race, with Mnangagwa’s lead having been cut from 11 percentage points to just three a month before election day.

Early optimism among opposition supporters that Chamisa, whose campaign attracted huge and enthusiastic crowds, might spring a surprise appeared to wane as Tuesday wore on.

Senior MDC Alliance officials claimed ZEC had not published about 25% of the voting returns outside polling stations, as required by law.

Tendai Biti, an MDC Alliance principal, called a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, scheduled just before ZEC began announcing the results, to declare Chamisa the winner.

Biti’s Alliance colleague David Coltart, cited the ZESN report whose earlier version said as many as 21% of the 739 surveyed polling stations (155) had not displayed returns.

Curiously, this particular finding of the ZESN survey was deleted from some printed versions.

Addressing the MDC Alliance’s complaints, ZEC deputy chairperson Emmanuel Magade said the body has not denied any party any polling material. Magade said ZEC would welcome any complaints from parties and investigate the reports.