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ELECTORAL COMMISSION CALLS FOR PATIENCE AS VOTE COUNTING FOR ZIMBABWE POLLS BEGINS

HARARE,-- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has called on the electorate to be patient until official results for the country's crunch general election on Monday are announced as vote counting began after the close of voting characterised by high voter turnout and a few hitches.

ZEC Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, updating the media at the official close of ballot casting, said voter turnout had been high, averaging 75 per cent, in four of the country's 10 provinces. Poll stations opened at 7 am local time and closed at 7 pm.

Millions of voters trooped to polling centres across the country to elect a new president and parliamentary and local government representatives. The elections were the first since independence from British rule in 1980 in which veteran leader Robert Mugabe was not a candidate.

Twenty-three candidates vied for the presidency, with the two main candidates being incumbent President

Emmerson Mnangagwa and the leader of the main opposition coalition, Nelson Chamisa, of the MDC Alliance.

Both expressed optimism of winning the poll, in which reviving the country's collapsed economy took centre stage.

According to the ZEC, Midlands province had recorded a 75 per cent voter turnout by 6 pm, followed by Harare and Bulawayo at 70 per cent while Masvingo trailed at 60 per cent.

Justice Chigumba said the commission had yet to receive poll data from six provinces namely, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Matabeleland North, Manicaland and Matabeleland South.

A few polling stations were yet to clear queues of voters by 7PM and would not close until those who were queuing before closing time were served, she said.

Justice Chigumba said voting had largely been peaceful throughout the country. Even in the face of long queues in some instances, Zimbabwean citizens still exhibited tolerance and patience, she said.

As vote counting began, Justice Chigumba called for patience while warning stakeholders against releasing results, which is the prerogative of ZEC. She said earlier that the ZEC expecxted vote counting to be completed and the results announced by Aug 4.

She also disclosed that a woman voter, whose identity is yet to be revealed, collapsed and died at a polling station in Bulilima, Matabeleland South province.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK