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Commonwealth observers at polling stations across Zimbabwe as voting gets under way

30 July 2018

The polls have opened in Zimbabwe in a harmonized election for president, parliament and local councils.  Commonwealth observers are monitoring every step of the process.

It's the first time elections have been held without the name of former President Robert Mugabe on the presidential ballot. He governed Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 to his retirement in November last year.

More than five million people have registered to vote in the 2018 contest.

The polls opened at 7.00 am.  Many people queued outside the stations for up to an hour, waiting patiently for their opportunity to vote.  More than 10,000 polling stations have been set up across the country.

For the first time, women are running for the presidency - four women are standing alongside 19 men.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU-PF party, and Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC Alliance, are considered the top two contenders for president.

The Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama, was at Queen Elizabeth polling station in Harare when the polls opened.

“The Commonwealth last observed elections in Zimbabwe in 2002,” he said earlier.  “The first election it observed in this country as in 1980.  We recognise that Zimbabwe has come a long way since then, and this election of 2018 is absolutely critical for the purpose of democratic consolidation.”

Commonwealth teams are observing the vote in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe.   They were present when voting began in the morning and will observe the process until polls close 12 hours later.  They will then monitor counting of votes and tabulation of results.

The Commonwealth Observer Group has been in Zimbabwe since 23 of July. The 23-strong team has heard from political parties, citizen observer groups, human rights, gender and youth groups.

Official results are expected to be released by 4 August.

More about the Zimbabwe Elections 2018