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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 13:54 GMT
E-mailers' voting resolve
People queuing to vote at the start of the Zimbabwe election
Waits of many hours were commonplace
Extremely long waits at polling stations, frustration but absolute determination to vote - these are the experiences reflected in many of the e-mail responses to BBC Online's Talking Point on the Zimbabwe presidential election.

The comments of one Harare resident, Rutendo Mamoyo, were typical. He said he spent 14 hours waiting to vote after joining the queue at 0700.

"It never happened before. I think Zanu-PF intended to do this so that we get fed up with the queues and end up not voting," he wrote.

The striking feature... was the sense of purpose and determination amongst all who waited - whether black or white

Email from Zimbabwe
It took another city resident even longer - from 0730 until 2300. He remarked that the most interesting aspect was that the justice minister was also in the queue, and that the minister's wife spent all day there.

"The process is slow but the will and determination is there," said Felistus Dadirai.

Another voter expressed "a great sigh of relief" when he cast his ballot after many hours in the queue. "What a wait - but they say it's a long way to freedom and freedom is coming."

Best efforts to no avail

Some would-be voters found themselves barred from taking part although they had checked their entitlement in advance. "How can this be fair?" wrote Ruth Bailey about her mother's experience.

Another frustrated citizen was an 80 year-old woman who had lived in Zimbabwe since she was two. Despite holding a Zimbabwean passport, she was told she could not vote "because she was born in South Africa".
Disappointed would-be voter
Some complained they had been struck off the electoral register

Others arrived to vote only to be told they would have to go to a polling station elsewhere.

A former Zimbabwe resident said she had heard from a friend in a farming area whose husband had been turned away from a polling station.

"The authorities there had a list of people who were not allowed to vote - white farmers!" according to Linda Costa of Australia.

One disappointed voter told of spending 15 hours in various queues and travelling hundreds of kilometres. "Tens of thousands of my neighbours failed to make the trip and could not vote. I am heartbroken. I'll need years to recover," said Runesu Shava.

But there were also e-mails expressing surprise from some that they had managed to vote despite fears to the contrary.


Many paid tribute to the sense of solidarity in the queues and also remarked on how determined people were to vote, whatever obstacles were put in their way.

"The striking feature of our long wait was the sense of purpose and determination amongst all who waited - whether black or white. I will never forget the ghostly, silent queue waiting in the cold and dark," write Brian, Ro and Craig.

"The spirit was good, the people of all colours and wanting to have their say," wrote Farai.

Another e-mail, from Waenda Bob, said officers at one polling station in Kuwadzana were forced to work overnight "by voters determined to make their choice".

At another polling station where many people were still waiting to vote after nightfall, residents intervened when election officers complained they could not continue because of the failing light.

"In demonstration of their resolve, the residents soon brought extension lead lights and the whole place was lit up", wrote Mr Bee.

He said he had witnessed people's determination to express their opinion in a way he had never seen before in his whole life in Zimbabwe.

Talking PointFORUM
Send your questions on Zimbabwe to Fergal Keane for a live debate with Panorama Interactive - at 1400 GMT, online and on interactive TV.Zimbabwe
Quiz Fergal Keane - Live at 1400 GMT

Key stories

The vote



See also:

11 Mar 02 | Africa
In pictures: Zimbabwe votes
11 Mar 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe election in quotes
10 Mar 02 | Media reports
Mugabe 'playing last card'
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