Thirty-nine members of poll monitoring groups who were arrested this week while tabulating the results of vote counting in Zimbabwe’s presidential election were charged Thursday with contravening Section 66 of the country’s electoral act, according to their lawyer.
They were working with the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network and the Election Resource Center, two accredited monitoring organizations which had deployed 7,500 observers nationwide.
National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said they contravened the nation’s laws and must face the music.
“They have contravened the laws of the country, and the due processes of the law must be followed,” said Nyathi while addressing journalists at police headquarters in the capital Harare.
Voting continued at several polling stations across the country, particularly in Harare, where some people failed to vote when polls opened yesterday.
The chaos that characterized voting was caused by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s delays in delivering adequate voting material on time to the polling stations, especially in towns and cities.
But the commission blamed this on electoral court challenges that it claimed hindered it from printing local authority ballot papers.
Members of an organization called Forever Associates Zimbabwe (FAZ), which is affiliated with the ruling Zanu-PF party, hogged the media limelight as they intimidated voters in various parts of the country, recording voters’ details at polling stations.
Results of the presidential vote are expected to be out within five days from the day of voting.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, is seeking a second term. His main challenger is opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, a 45-year-old lawyer and pastor.
In 2018, a delay in announcing presidential election results drove many protesters onto the streets to demand the release of the results, prompting the military to intervene, subsequently shooting and killing six civilians in the process.