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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 11:59 GMT
Zimbabwe: A voter's endless wait
Fortune Mapfumo in Harare
Fortune Mapfumo: Angry at his long wait to vote
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By Lewis Machipisa
BBC reporter in Harare

Fortune Mapfumo is a bitter young man.

He has been attempting to cast his vote in Mabvuku township in Harare all weekend and he still hasn't succeeded.

We are very angry. The situation is very tense. We have been more than 3,000 queuing down the road.

Fortune Mapfumo
"I came here to vote on Saturday. I came at 0400 but I didn't manage to vote by 2300. I came again on Sunday but still didn't manage to vote," he told me.

"I have now come back again for the third day, since I have been told the days have been extended."

But he said the authorities were still preventing them from voting on Monday.

"The High Court has ordered that we should vote and we were expecting that they would open.

"I don't understand why they asked people to register to vote in the first place. They even extended the registration period. It's our right to vote. Why can't things be done in an orderly way."

Angry and hungry

Fortune said that last night they were chased away from the polling station by police and told to return on Monday morning.

"I am back here. But look at these people. They are hungry and angry now. We have old mothers in the queue."

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For Fortune and his friends they are in no doubt as to why they are not being allowed to vote.

"They say we are the 'born-frees' (those born after independence in 1980) and they know we won't vote for them (ruling party). They are only allowing the old people who they know will vote for the ruling party to vote.

"But we are very angry. The situation is very tense. We have been more than 3,000 queuing down the road. Why can't things be done in an orderly way."


Another friend added his voice: "We fear they are beginning to rig the election. That's not fair because if they want people to vote they should allow us because the High Court has said so.

Queue of voters
Some voters have been queuing for three days
"They should allow us to vote as soon as possible or else we are heading for something. They are heading for disaster, we are telling them the truth . We want to vote."

As I left the polling station I was ordered to go and bring international observers so that they can complain to them.

One youth complained that he would riot if he is denied the right to vote.

But I also met Dexter who was happy that he had voted.

"I stay around Mabvuku. I have voted but I am just seeing my friends who are being frustrated in the long queues.

"I was lucky. It took me four hours to vote on Saturday but only because I had slept at the polling station.

"People should be allowed to vote."

Key stories

The vote



See also:

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