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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 09:04 GMT
Zimbabwe poll: Tell us your experiences
Counting is underway in Zimbabwe's presidential election, after three days of voting marked by long queues and delays.

Police used force to disperse thousands of people who were still queuing in the capital city, Harare, when polling stations closed on Monday.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had sought another day of voting, but the High Court threw the request out saying such a decision was outside its jurisdiction.

The run-up to the poll was marked by accusations of intimidation and violence against opponents of President Robert Mugabe, who is seeking re-election.

Many observers, including those from the European Union, have not been accredited.

Were you able to vote? What was it like? Tell us your experiences.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your comments:

The elections were not free and fair, especially for the urban people, considering that Zanu PF had reduced the polling stations in towns after realising that towns are the strong hold for MDC. They then went on to increase polling stations in rural areas where they know they command more support. It is against this background that people had to go to polling stations as early as 5am only to vote at 4pm.
Edwin, Zimbabwe

It seems to me that all have gone well so far in the voting process, however the western media will find anything negative to report about the electoral process just to undermine President Mugabe.
Shepherd, KweKwe, Zimbabwe

I was born in Zimbabwe but left at a young age in 1975 yet still have family there and deep feelings for my country of birth however I watch the elections with great sadness and worry about the outcome. Zimbabwe has a potential to be a great country and I am sure I speak for many people who have never returned due to the corrupt government of Mugabe when I say I hope the Zimbabwe people get a government that can realise that potential. I for one will never return until such a government is in power. Good luck to the Zimbabwe people.
Stuart Findlay, Scotland

Africa needs to resolve this problem by itself, without outside interference. Europe and the US should remain ready to help if asked. Some African countries seem to use the colonial past as an excuse for all their troubles. I'm sure some of it could be laid at that door, but after 20-odd years its a bit much to keep using that lame old excuse when in fact it is all down to corruption and ineptitude. The only action the UK should take is impose sanction if Zanu PF wins. The Commonwealth will I believe will prove useless, as displayed earlier this month when this was debated. The only other way to resolve this is unfortunately, by using force. This will not happen I believe, due to the corruption and ineptitude of other African governments. What left, well we could hope for a miracle.
Andy Bertram, UK

I want to warn Mugabe that we "the born frees", as he refers to us, will not recognise the results of this fraudulent election

Silo Samabandla, Zimbabwe
It took me almost 14 hours to cast my vote because Robert Mugabe wanted to frustrate me into not voting knowing fully well that we the younger generation would not support him an inch as we bear the brunt of his despotic rule. But I want to warn Mugabe that we "the born frees", as he refers to us, will not recognise the results of this fraudulent election and will fight his evil mechanisms to the death. He can deny us the right to vote but he will not rule in peace. We will fight Zanu-PF oppression and do so vigorously. What majority support is Mugabe talking about when he says he represents the will of the people? What about those who died at the hands of his youth militia? Long live the people of Zimbabwe. The hour has come to take our destiny into our own hands and say enough of Mugabe and his cronies.
Silo Samabandla, Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe election has obviously been rigged. Judging from the total numbers of votes cast in certain constituencies like Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West & east of more than 330 000, each against Harare & Chitungwiza combined with only 415 000, one is bound to raise questions. On Saturday even ZANU PF' s mouthpiece ZBC alluded to the fact that there was serious voter apathy in rural areas, yet we are told today that actually the voter turnout in these rural areas was over 80%. This was rigged!!!
Brighton Potera, Zimbabwe

Despite waiting in the queue for 14 hours, my husband and I managed to cast our votes for change. I was so impressed with the resilience of Zimbabweans and the change in culture. They have now decided to express their will through the ballot box as opposed to just leaving some people in power to ruin our lives and the future generation's inheritance. I say united Zimbabweans we stand and divided we fall. We have won this election and do not ever think otherwise.
Nyasha, Zimbabwe

They have taken the last card from you and you didn't even know it until you tried to play it

The Patriot, Zimbabwe
Imagine if the year is 1932 and your mother goes to South Africa to be with her family for your birth. She returns to Zimbabwe within 3 months. Since then you have lived your whole life, 70 years, in Zimbabwe. Being a responsible citizen, you do 3 important things:

1. You buy land with your savings,
2. You put aside money in a local pension fund,
3. You send your children to Zimbabwean schools

More than this, you also marry a gentle lady who is a nurse and uses her own savings to provide basic care for the people who work on the land and who were promised free health, yet cannot afford to go to a hospital or clinic. Overwhelmed by the demand for medical assistance from surrounding areas because of her reputation, she asks friends to sponsor the extra medicine. This helps to alleviate some of the problem, a drop in a large ocean.

In every way, as your father before you, and your children after you, you and your gentle wife contribute to Zimbabwe, as good, concerned citizens should.

In a confusing but progressive manner over the last 5 years, your pension is eaten away by inflation, your farm which you hope will be your support in your old age is over run with people who refuse both you and your workers, the right to grow crops on your farm, yet only utilise 12% of the land themselves leaving the rest idle. You submit to this because the authorities demand this sacrifice from you, without any compensation. You are white.

You have one final card up you sleeve: your vote. Remember you spent the first two months of your life in South Africa? To ensure you get your vote, you renounce all rights to your South African birthright for the third time to make sure very one knows you are Zimbabwean forever. At the age of 70 you're not likely to be going anywhere now, are you?

You get a letter from the State saying you no longer have the right to vote because you were born in South Africa. You appeal to the high court. While on appeal you cannot be removed from the voters roll¿or can you?

On the 9th of March 2002, you exercise your ace card: you and your gentle wife quietly drive to the nearest polling station without fanfare. You do not give a lift to the few workers left living on the farm: they are afraid to be seen with you, an old white couple. You are told your name has been removed from the roll. You ask to see the roll yourself. You are refused. You ask to speak to an observer. Someone notes your concern¿how can they write about the sadness, the anger, the bitterness, the years of sacrifice for a country you love¿you and your wife have no say in the country you have given your lives to. They have taken the last card from you and you didn't even know it until you tried to play it.

But God knows.

The Patriot, Zimbabwe

Mugabe will only rig the election at the end of the day

Rumbi, UK
I have been denied my vote, my fundamental right purely because I live in the United Kingdom. I am angry and I feel that I am not doing enough to save my country. But even if I was in Zimbabwe would my vote make any difference? Mugabe will only rig the election at the end of the day. But I feel that I could have done more for my future and my son's future and for the future of our beautiful country.
Rumbi, UK

This is the biggest joke since the American elections!
Dave Allen, London, UK

Many of us Zimbabweans but have had no choice but to leave Zimbabwe. We left behind our loved ones, even our children. It is very sad to see what is happening at home. Mugabe knows that he will be defeated; I praise everyone who went and stood in those long lines to vote. We unfortunately weren't allowed to vote, but our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwean people. We miss and love our beloved country.
Kelly, Milton Keynes UK

I would just like to commend the bravery and commitment of all Zimbabweans who have been prepared to wait hours or even days to vote. People in countries where it is easy to vote (although many don't do so due to voter apathy) should be ashamed of themselves after seeing the sacrifices most Zimbabweans are prepared to make to exercise their democratic choice.
Rebecca Taylor, Belgium

Taking the case of Zimbabwe, for example, we've seen the western media going beyond decency, insulting, castigating and calling Mugabe all fearful names just because he is against the land occupation by white farmers

Yahya, Gambia
I believe that African media houses should learn lessons from their western counterparts in terms of the way they are supportive to their political leaders. Taking the case of Zimbabwe, for example, we've seen the western media going beyond decency, insulting, castigating and calling Mugabe all fearful names just because he is against the land occupation by white farmers. The truth is on the wall for all to see if and only if they want to. I believe the African media should be objective and supportive of the efforts of their leaders who are are true heroes like His Excellency Mr Mugabe. You must not allow yourselves to be moulded and shaped into lost beast against the interests of your own country and people.
Yahya, Gambia

I lived on a farm in Karoi during the liberation struggle. One man one vote was the mantra. Peace, independence, the vote and a fine president came in 1980. Or so we thought. There is nothing fine about a president who treats his people ill to further his own agenda. There is no independence in a country without food. There is no peace when nations young sons are being abducted from their homes and brainwashed to return and beat their neighbours. And now look; Zimbabweans no longer have the vote. Why does the rest of Africa keep so silent?
Bev Schofield, Scotland

I'm a Zimbabwean by birth, carrying a Zimbabwean passport, - and I could not vote because I live abroad. I just want to tell all the Zimbabweans who did that you are in the prayers of every Zimbabwean, wherever we are, all over the world. Every vote cast carries the hopes of dozens of people denied the chance to vote for themselves. Thank you all!

After spending 19 hrs queuing, it was a great relief to finally cast my vote. The thing that struck me the most was the unbelievable unity between everyone that was in the queue, all races were happy to mingle and chat. Never before in my 33 years of living in Zimbabwe have I seen such a close bond between the races. I only hope that it shows Zanu PF and the rest of the world what the people of Zimbabwe really want, peace, unity and freedom!!!!
GOC, Harare, Zimbabwe

Hear this my fellow Zimbabweans; if Mugabe imposes himself as our leader we will all have a responsibility to correct that nonsense

Sam, UK
Hear this my fellow Zimbabweans; if Mugabe imposes himself as our leader we will all have a responsibility to correct that nonsense. I watched and read with pain ZANU PF's attempt to deny the people of Zimbabwe the right to choose their President. Thousands of people in Harare and Chitungwiza were openly denied the right to vote after having spent long hours (some even nights at the polling stations) waiting to vote. Zimbabweans, let's prepare for the challenge and free ourselves from these masters of evil.
Sam, UK

The elections were not free and fair as it is being produced and fabricated by propaganda media in Zimbabwe. Yesterday after complying with the high court ruling thousands went to their respective constituencies to cast their ballots in Harare and Chitungwiza the polling officers surprisingly were just mere onlookers to the people. The Police officers from Z.R.P were busy searching cars early in the morning and some were threatening to beat up people if the outcome of the elections came in favour of the opposition.
Colin Simba, Zimbabwe

Elections were far from being free and fair at my polling station in Glen Norah, a well-known MDC stronghold. People were not allowed to vote after 7pm since Saturday. They were teargased by the police at around 6:30pm so more than 50 percent of the registered voters in that place did not vote
Mncane, Zimbabwe

The riot police came armed to the brink, with baton sticks, teargas canisters and guns in their intimidating uniforms and ordered us to leave as the polling station had closed

AL, Zimbabwe
It has been a long wait for us. I went to the polling station at 8.00am on Saturday early in the morning and left at 12.15am. Still I had not voted. I came again Sunday morning at 10.00am and left at 10.30pm. The riot police came armed to the brink, with baton sticks, teargas canisters and guns in their intimidating uniforms and ordered us to leave as the polling station had closed. Because some of us had heard of the High court ruling extending the voting period, we left reluctantly as we wanted the voting to be peaceful. Monday morning, I was there at 8.00am. Voting started at +/- 11.30am contrary to the ruling. I managed to vote at 3.30pm and there was still a long queue when I left. The whole process was so tedious, the sun was hot and the nights were cold but that didn't deter many people. If anything, it actually increased their resolve to exercise their right to vote. Unfortunately, there are many who, for other reasons, could not do so because of this process. Over the weekend the whole process was agonisingly slow. However, I hope the results of this election will be a true reflection of the people's will even if there were these obstacles. No mortal can dissuade what destiny has decreed. The can in the short run but only time will tell.
AL, Zimbabwe

As we watch our fellow Zimbabweans turn out to vote, despite all the efforts of the government to keep them away, one feels pride at their bravery but also rather cowardly at not being they're ourselves to cast our votes. Of course we know we had to leave to make better lives for our children, and even if we were there, with the elections so rigged, what would our vote count for? I spoke to my parents, who voted on Sunday, fortunately for them, they were in the OAP queue, and in less than an hour had cast their votes. No so for the thousands in the high-density areas. We continue to pray for change.
Allison, Zimbabwean in the UK

As a Zimbabwean citizen studying outside the country it was torture not to be allowed to vote, only to be able to see it all on the news, unable to do anything.
Si K, Zimbabwean studying in South Africa

Instead of a war on Poverty we have a President who has a war of words aimed at Blair - as though that will feed me. What is to stop the youths from getting out of control, when they are filled to the brim with Education yet they own no payroll? In my soul I'm paranoid on how things had to be this way, we are a kind people who have been taken for granted for too long, we need our respect, we demand our respect. Change is good enough for any of us. The State mouthpiece "The Herald", courtesy of Minister of MisInformation screams 'Mugabe Leads Polls', if they think they have won the battle they should prepare for a war.
Blacksunshine., Murewa, Zimbabwe.

Young people want to live in harmony

K. Ndhela Matsheza, Zimbabwean/ USA
We all knew that there was not going to be a fair and free election. Brutality still continues, Zimbabweans have been refused their rights to vote for change. We have to remove this brutal government. Young people want to live in harmony where everybody can stay regardless of colour.
K. Ndhela Matsheza, Zimbabwean/ USA

I would like to salute all the brave men and women of all races in Zimbabwe for using their democratic right to choose the new president despite all the intimidation that has been unleashed by those responsible for this whole reign of terror. May God bless all of us Zimbabweans.
Matthew Ndlovu, South Africa

What frustrates me most is the British Government's attitude towards Mugabe. They created him, they armed him, they protected him, they wined and dined with him because no British citizen was being killed or harassed by Mugabe. But now that he is harassing everyone the Brits now want to play "Big Brother" in the eyes of the international community. Why now? My people were butchered by Mugabe using weapons and vehicles supplied by the Brits in Matebeland but the British Government chose to keep quiet, Why?
Dan Savanhu, Zimbabwe

I have voted. It took too long but I had to vote for Cde Mugabe. The polling officers, who are sympathetic to the opposition, had connived to slow down the whole process so as to create chaos. I wonder why Morgan has to go this low to try and have disgraced Britain recolonise our land?
Mwana Wevhu, Zimbabwe

As a Zimbabwean living in London and denied the vote, I cannot tell you what it did to see my fellow Zimbabweans, back home, turning out in their millions to remove the monster the world call President Mugabe! Not only did I sleep outside Zimbabwe House over the weekend in protest at being denied my vote but, I cast my vote in a symbolic ballot. Who did I vote for? That's my secret - but I voted for "change" like my fellow Zimbabweans at home!
Graham H. Crouch, UK

Having lived in Zimbabwe for the first 18 years of my life I have never heard of such togetherness of all the races that make up our beautiful country. I spoke to my mother over the election weekend who said she had been in the queue for over 10 hours, but was determined to cast her vote, she said everyone was coming together, no one was complaining just moving forward, sharing views, conversing and laughing together looking forward a change for the better.
Nycky, Zimbabwean in residing in the UK

I voted in my rural constituency together with other patriotic Zimbabweans. Queues were not that large, but everybody was given an opportunity to select his/her own leader. We hope to consolidate our sovereignty.
Stan Matenda, Zimbabwe

Where the ballot box is ineffective the bullet will take over.

Chimurenga Tichatonga, Zimbabwe
I would like to express my dissatisfaction over the march of events here in Harare, Zimbabwe. it is very disturbing to note that Mugabe had already rigged before the counting had started. The Herald report is a clear testimony that Mugabe and his cohorts had already rigged. Although I had voted I believe there is no free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. my warning to you Mugabe let it be loud and clear that be rest assured that where the ballot box is ineffective the bullet will take over.
Chimurenga Tichatonga, Zimbabwe

I applaud all the brave men and women of Zimbabwe, black and white, who have been going out over the past few days to exercise their democratic rights, in the face of violence and intimidation. May your struggle not be in vain. God bless Zimbabwe, and its courageous people. Tyrants and oppressors never last.
Akin, Nigerian-Canadian in Japan

I voted on Saturday morning. I spent six hours in a queue that had about 200 people. The process was slow because polling officers had to look for your name in at least three printed records. One containing the list of people who had denounced their Zimbabwean citizenship and were therefore not eligible to vote, the next the list containing names for the Presidential voters, and the last containing voters for mayor and Harare council. The Presidential and Mayoral rolls had to tie in for one to be allowed to vote. Voters who appeared in one roll were asked to check their names at another polling station - which meant joining another slow moving queue.
HFT, Zimbabwe

I woke up early on Saturday and got to the polling station on Saturday at around 6.30am. There were already hundreds of people queuing waiting to vote. The process was painfully slow and to be honest, we waited because we really wanted to vote. I and many others who got to the polling station hours before the official opening of the station at only managed to vote late in the night. I voted at 0040hrs on Sunday, and I am happy I played my part in changing the situation in my country. All the people standing there in the middle of that cold windy night on Saturday were determined to exercise their right.
N. Musvoto, Zimbabwe

After 8.5 hours we voted , the polling agents arranged for an extra polling booth which was a waste of time as the bottleneck was at the verification table . There were 5 polling booths and generally 2 were only being used. The Government had a great strategy - reduce the number of polling stations in urban areas and you curb the opposition vote. MDC my prayers are with you and all that sacrificed yourselves through the campaign .Remember all will be judged by God.
Buster, Bulawayo , Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is on its knees and with God's blessing and the great resolve of the nation we can achieve victory

Brian, Zimbabwe
On Saturday I waited for almost 17 hours in the queue but did not manage to vote. The conspiracy theory of the ruling party had hoped that by reducing the number of polling stations in urban areas I would be frustrated and would not return the next day, but I went back even more eager than I had been the day before. After a gruelling 11 hours I voted for change and I know my vote will make that difference. The queues were long but the mood was calm, people shared jokes, food, umbrellas, you name it.

I have never seen Zimbabwe like this. It looked like a cricket match, with all races wanting to make that difference. The time has come to make a change. Zimbabwe is on its knees and with God's blessing and the great resolve of the nation imbedded in history, we can achieve victory. I flew all the way from Dubai eight days ago. I thought they would deny me the opportunity to vote since one rule stipulated that if you have resided outside Zimbabwe for over six months you are deemed ineligible, but I guess they missed me and believe me the trip was worth it. I feel so refreshed, because I love my Zimbabwe. The resolve will prosper.
Brian, Zimbabwe

I got to the polling station at 6am and was about 200m from the booth. After waiting for six hours I decided to join those who were jumping the queue and managed to vote at 1400. The rate at which they were processing the voters was about one person every eight minutes and I tell you these Zanu PF people are geniuses but they waste their energies on negative things.
D, Harare, Zimbabwe

We have been in constant communication with our family this weekend. My mother-in-law although born in the UK is a permanent resident. In January she received a letter from the Registrar General advising that she had been struck off the voter's roll and would not be able to vote. Undeterred, she went to try to vote, after queuing for four hours she was advised of the "OAP" queue which she promptly joined. When she finally came to vote, besides being advised that she would not be allowed to, her name was still on the list and she proceeded to cast her all important ballot. Our names were still on the list and it saddens me that we were not allowed to vote for what we believe in - freedom!
Brenda, Zimbabwean in UK

I was unable to vote as I am not a citizen. A work colleague tried to vote today (Monday) but the voting stations were closed shortly after they opened this morning. The government is not allowing voting today. The South Africans are not reporting on the truth. The truth is that the elections are totally rigged and there's nothing we can do about it.
Natalie, Zimbabwe

It is surprising that the government is hesitant to extend the polling days when queues were so long by close of the second day in Harare and Chitungwiza. The Registrar reduced the number of polling stations in these areas when he knew pretty well that there were tripartite and binary elections in these areas. They are trying to steal the elections.
Sheuneni, Zimbabwe

After waiting for more than 10 hours I voted in Harare. What an experience! I have never dreamt nor imagined freedom could be so costly from a purported liberator of the people. I shudder to imagine the same mafia will dare steal our quest for change. I hope the international community stops playing games with Zimbabwean blood.
Ernest, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean elections were so peaceful. All those who predicted violence, I think they were lost. I would like to urge my fellow Zimbabweans to remain calm and wait for the results. Let's all accept the results because that's what the electorate wanted. Whoever wins I hope will lead Zimbabwe for the better...
Nhamo Yedu, Zimbabwe

My wife, daughter and myself were confirmed on the voters roll prior to the election. however, today, when voting, my wife¿s name did not appear on the voters roll. After the resubmission of certain documents she was then allowed to vote. This obviously entailed several trips to the polling station. Some official within the polling station confronted her admonishing her for her frequent visits. The abusive official then instructed her to keep away from the polling station.
BKP - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

We waited in a voting line from 6:30 am in Harare East. We eventually got to vote at 18:45 after only 980 people had gone through the polling station before us. We complained to the observers about the slow process but it made no difference. The police tried to put a sign up saying any people in the line behind the sign could not vote on Saturday even though they had also been in the line since early morning. The observers then intervened and the sign was taken down. For all we know they were probably still voting at 2 am. Good luck to all the others in the lines be patient and don't let them turn you away just because they want to finish. If you are in the line at 7pm they are supposed to let you vote.
Rachel and Warwick Neville, Zimbabwe

The Justice Minister was together with us in the queue.

Felistus Dadirai, Zimbabwe
I voted yesterday. I was in the queue from 0730 in the morning until 2300 - that's when I finally managed to cast my vote. The most interesting thing is that the Justice Minister was together with us in the queue. His wife was there the whole day with us. The process is slow but the WILL and DETERMINATION is there.
Felistus Dadirai, Zimbabwe

I voted yesterday after a nine hour wait. Two people who thought they wouldn't be able to vote tried and they got to vote! To all those not sure or think they have been taken off the voters role go and see. You don't know until you have tried!
Yolanda, Harare, Zimbabwe

Despite the fact that the voting process is extremely slow in Harare, people are determined to vote. At one polling station in the high density area of Kuwadzana polling officers were forced to work overnight by voters determined to make their choice. At least the elections are peaceful. What I am not sure of is the post-election period.
Waenda Bob, Zimbabwe

We are becoming anxious again.

Farai, Zimbabwe
I went to vote yesterday. We arrived at about 07.30 hrs. There was a long queue which was moving very slowly. We were going to help in another constituency so we had to get moving quickly. We joined a group of friends who were ahead and managed to vote at 11.00 hrs. The spirit was good, the people of all colours and wanting to have their say. We left to help at other polling stations, the queues were all very long. The people we went with to our polling station voted at 19.30 hrs. My niece was in another ward and she voted at 03.15 hrs. This morning I took my elderly mother. They had her address wrongly assigned to another ward. They would not allow her to vote in the council elections even though they accepted it was their error. Now reports of all sorts of things happening to opposition polling agents, ballot boxes etc are coming through we are becoming anxious again. We cannot wait for the result we all hope for.
Farai, Zimbabwe

I spoke to my parents who voted yesterday. They told me about a woman in Bulawayo who turned up at her local polling station only to be told she was registered on the electoral role in Harare. The woman did not argue, but got in her car and drove to Harare to cast her vote.
Rebecca, Leeds, UK

I stood in the queue from 6am and voted at 12 pm, the process was very slow and frustrating and felt this was a deliberate move to send us home but we stood and struggled on. Voting ended around 11pm in my constituency. The polling agent was partially blind and did not know her alphabet very well which just made the situation worse!!! I personally did not see any international observers for the time I was there.
Taneta, Zimbabwe

Yes I voted Sunday 1000hrs, but not without the assistance of my wife. She had earlier joined the queue Saturday 0700hrs only to vote at 2330hrs, yes 16 1/2 hrs wait. Because I am on night duty she decided to take a place for me at 0430hrs on Sunday, and sure enough it worked. Thanks to Elizabeth's courage and determination. My God put his hand in this election for the sake of Zimbabwe and its citizens . We need a break.
Noel Chirairo, Zimbabwe

My mother, who is 80 years old went to cast her vote today. She was told she was "struck off the register" - the reason given was because "she was born in South Africa". She came to this country when she was 2 years old and has lived most of her life here! She also holds a Zimbabwean passport!
Lorna Kelly, Zimbabwe

We must have change, the resolve and heart of the people are our brightest hope.

C. C. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
I've have never been more proud to be a Zimbabwean, this weekend, people of all colours, cultures and class, stood firm, together, determined to vote no matter what. In spite of all the terrible intimidation, economic hardships, starvation, rapes, beatings, murders and much more, Zimbabweans stood together, refusing to rise to Mugabe's bait, refusing to resort to violence, rather choosing to commit to a peaceful solution for our beautiful country. We must have change, the resolve and heart of the people are our brightest hope, God forbid Mugabe should win!!! Zimbabwe will face an even greater challenge. In any event I'd like to thank the BBC for their support of Zimbabwean people, in spite of the rantings of our sad govt. Please continue to tell the truth.
C.C. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

I waited for 9 hours to vote. The checking of the names took too long. The ladies checking were disorganised and complained that the process strained their eyes. Another man was denied the right to vote because he was not in his WARD. He spent about 15 to 20 minutes protesting, only then did they allow him to vote for president and they gave him a strict warning not to tell anyone that he had been allowed to vote.
Nyembesi, Zimbabwe

After a gruelling 14 hours I finally cast my vote at 10:15PM. This was after initially an exciting day of chit chat with other would be voters, it was actually quite festive. It then dawned on all that it was not going to be an easy day except if you were 60 years old and above or could somehow prove that you had some serious infirmity. People in that category got preference deservedly. The crunch came when we were advised that the ultra-violet scanning machine had broken down due to a flat battery. A locally made and not so durable make was being used for such an important occasion and the powers that be did not think a spare battery would be a useful inclusion in the polling station kit. The day trudged on until 7:00PM the designated time for closure. There were still at least 1000 people who had vowed not to leave until they had cast their vote. The officers extended the voting time and promised everyone within the grounds that they would be afforded their chance to express their opinion. No sooner the officials claimed that the light was insufficient for them to continue. In demonstration of their resolve to vote the residents soon brought extension lead lights and the whole place was lit up. The officers were offered food and drink should they be hungry to allow them to continue the process. A determination to express their opinion such as I have never seen in Zimbabwe was demonstrated. I have lived in this country all my life 46 years in all. The statements were undoubtedly for a change in the current status quo. If what was seen here has been replicated country wide then the headline in today¿s Herald newspaper to the effect that Mugabe leads in the Polls is grossly incorrect.
Mr. Bee, Zimbabwe

The delays therefore certainly resulted in a lot of people failing to vote.

Cleto, Zimbabwe
I joined the queue in Malborough at 06.30 am on Saturday. I estimate that there were about 500 people ahead of me. I spent the whole day in the queue and finally gave up around 21.00. The next day I went to another polling station in Avonlea at about 04.30 in the morning. I managed to vote soon after they opened on Sunday. My wife did not manage to vote because we have a 2 months old baby. The delays therefore certainly resulted in a lot of people failing to vote.
Cleto, Zimbabwe

Yes, I voted but after 12 good hours. What do you expect at a rate of less than 100 voters an hour? I only had a small packet of maputi (Local Popcorn), but I was still determined to exercise my right. Later on I went out to have a few drinks to cool my self down. Oh! I thank God for the cool weather on Saturday. God Bless Zimbabwe.
Takura, Zimbabwe

In Mbare people were being told to submit their addresses after voting
Alban Gambe, Zimbabwe

I have voted at last. A great sigh of relief, considering I woke up at 4.30 am local time, only to cast my so-important vote at 16.30 hrs. What a wait - but they say its a long way to freedom ,and freedom is coming. To all zimbos world wide, just cross your fingers. I smell change in the air....
Inoita Chetemu, Kuwasha, Zimbabwe

I have been in touch with my family in the most beautiful country in the world, yes Zimbabwe. They are safe but apprehensive. The stories of the "free and fair" elections are just crazy. I have had to leave the country because there are no jobs and there is no peace. The government has systematically removed peace, freedom, stability, sustenance and security. They will never take away our hope. God Bless Zimbabwe and future governments. May all the joys of stability, freedom, peace and love be restored to this wonderful land. I love you Zimbabwe.
Heather, Zimbabwean in the UK

Despite spending 15 hours on queue and travelling for 300km, I failed to vote

Runesu Shava, Zimbabwe
Despite spending 15 hours on queue and travelling for 300km, I failed to vote. After spending more than eight hours on queue, I was told residents of Maridale Hill, Knowe, Johannesburg and Trafalgar in Norton (40Km West of Harare) had been placed under Chegutu Rural Constituency. I then travelled to the "nearest" polling station at Selous town 40Km away. Mind you this is despite the fact that I had voted under Norton before and had inspected the voters' roll less than two months ago. At Selous I found a very long queue and could not vote on Saturday. Yesterday I went back and spent a further seven hours. The result - my name was not on the voters' roll. Full stop. Tens of thousands of my neighbours failed to make the trip and could not vote. I am heart broken. I'll need years to recover.
Runesu Shava, Zimbabwe

My husband flew to Zimbabwe last week to cast his vote. He queued for 13 hours, but at 5am on Sunday morning managed to vote for change. I am proud of him. I wept when he told me my name was still there on the voter's roll - even though I am not legally entitled to vote, as I became a permanent resident there in 1986, 12 months too late according to the rules. I wish I too could have cast my vote for change. God bless all democratic Zimbabweans.
Linda, Buderim, Queensland

At long last, I have managed to cast my vote. It actually took me a cumulative 26 hours of waiting in the queue. The first day I waited for fourteen hours without any joy and yesterday I had to wait the remaining hours and finally cast my vote. This was a ploy by the ruling party to use delaying tactics making thousands of voters lose heart. This was not the case thankfully with the Harare/Chitungwiza electorate. I salute the Harare and Chitungwiza residents who braved the chilly weather on Saturday, scorching sun on Sunday and endured the long queues just to exercise their democratic right hence making the conspiracy almost non effective.
STM, Zimbabwe

My brother, after 40 years in Zimbabwe, 35 as a citizen and voter, stayed on after independence to rebuild the country he loved. He recently furnished the documents showing he had renounced his South African citizenship, but yesterday, after a wait of seven hours was denied the right to vote. What happens now?
Penny Bond, South Africa

We are thinking of you all at this very frustrating, however quite exciting time back home in Zimbabwe. My Dad will be voting today, yesterday was just overwhelmingly packed - great sign of a victory! May the best man win!
Kristen Turner, Melbourne, Australia

The queue of mixed race potential voters was very peaceful and everyone was friendly to one another

Kathy, Zimbabwe
Having lived in Zimbabwe since 1967, I was determined to try and vote despite the fact that I am a Permanent Resident with a Foreign Passport. I went to Old Nic Mine Polling Station in Bulawayo at approximately 11.45am and left at 12.40am having cast my vote. The queue of mixed race potential voters was very peaceful and everyone was friendly to one another. Zimbabweans know what they want and hopefully will obtain their desires. With a change in Government Zimbabweans will be able to live peacefully together
Kathy, Zimbabwe

Until recently, we lived in Zimbabwe. I have just had a message from a friend in a farming area. Her husband went to vote at a nearby polling station but was turned away. The authorities there had a list of people who were NOT allowed to vote - white farmers!
Linda Costa, Australia

Perhaps we need to give the whole process of voting in Zimbabwe time. Predictably, all the respondents to your question are town dwellers with access to the IT. Maybe there should be another forum to ask the rural folk how they feel about the exercise. For one, I believe in democracy and I would love my brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe to decide who becomes their president for the coming period. Like wise, my plea to the International media - please be balanced in your coverage of this process. Let's have sanity and do not incite the people. It is finally the moment of truth and early next week, we will have the results. I hold my breath.
Ndung'u Ndegwah, Nairobi, Kenya

Surprisingly I was still on the voter's roll. After 7 hours waiting I could in Bulawayo South. Massive turnout, not many Mugabe supporters
K.K, Zimbabwe

The striking feature of our long wait was the sense of purpose and determination amongst all who waited

Brian, Ro and Craig, Zimbabwe
We voted! Even though we had to spend 17 (yes, seventeen) hours in the queue, which was processing one person per minute. 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. It made absolute nonsense of the virulent anti-white propaganda that made the front page of today's Sunday Mail and that has characterised Mugabe's campaign of hatred. I have no doubt that this slow process was a deliberate attempt to discourage urban voters but the people's perseverance was underestimated.
Brian, Ro and Craig, Zimbabwe

I phoned home last night, my wife failed to phone due to the slowly moving queue but she has vowed to join the queue by 4 a.m on Sunday, because of her determination to see the dictator go. I am just praying that there " God let there be light in Zimbabwe", and of course for all Zimbabwean urbanites to vote in thousands to counter the Mashonaland Central vote. In God I trust that the dictator will receive a red card.
John Derera, South Africa

Many people were turned away when the polling booth was closed for the evening. And this is a fair election?

Nanette Alsop, Switzerland
I spoke with my friends last night in Harare, who have lived there for over thirty years. She was not permitted to vote, as she was forced to choose between a Zimbabwean passport or British last month and, in choosing the British, she was disqualified. Her husband, who had been in line for seven hours, reported that the police did nothing when a group of 100 youths pushed in to the front of the queue. Many people were turned away when the polling booth was closed for the evening. And this is a fair election?
Nanette Alsop, Switzerland

Free And Fair? Two married couples from Odzi assisting opposition observers to travel to the polling station have been stopped by thugs and beaten, the police arrived and arrested them, and they are now sitting in RUDO (Honde Vally) jail. We are not allowed to communicate with them.
JAMES, Zimbabwe

To my children in UK Alison & Bryan, we have voted, are safe with the Grandmother and wait for normality to return to your Home Country

Humphrey Tate, Zimbabwe
I took my 92-year old mother, using a walker, to vote. We came to the front of the queue, and the police let us in, she voted, we are relieved, then we tried to vote having helped her, but the "ink" was on our hands, the police and presiding officer, queried our position, explaining what we had done for the Omai, they agreed to let us vote, thank goodness, sanity was seen there. To my children in UK Alison & Bryan, we have voted, are safe with the Grandmother and wait for normality to return to your Home Country.
Humphrey Tate, Zimbabwe

Many people have said that the people of Zimbabwe have got the chance to get rid of Mugabe, but I think in a democratic process especially in Africa, no leader apart from Mandella is prepared to witness the funeral of their political life through free and fair elections. Mugade is no different.
Bulamu Moses, Uganda

The voting will be peaceful, but what will happen next?

Mark & Jax , Zimbabwe

My wife and I were up at 4:40am, Saturday and bundled the children into the car, for concern about their safety at home alone. We drove to the Polling station nearby. It was dark and eerie, we were worried about the local Zanu PF militia who have been terrorising the neighbourhood for the last few weeks. We were relieved when we found out that others had had the same idea. Now at 5:00am, the mood was very positive, especially knowing that we were at the front of the queue. People there exchanged jokes and shared coffee, but the tension was still underlying. By 7:00am the voting began and was jubilant to be out by 7:15am, by now the queue was growing. Shortly after breakfast, we got in the car and made our way to South Africa, where I write today. Yes, the voting will be peaceful, but what will happen next? Please don't just stand there and watch this beautiful country sink after all we've been through. Please help this wonderful nation.
Mark & Jax , Zimbabwe

I called Zimbabwe earlier and both my mom and dad were in the queue waiting to cast their vote. I was extremely happy because my parents have never taken an active role in politics. It was quiet and peaceful they said and everybody seemed excited at the opportunity to vote (and hopefully vote wisely). People are braving out the Weather and long lines. GOD BLESS ZIMBABWE!

My experience was a mammoth 15 hours wait. A small sacrifice considering the amount of people who have risked and lost life, safety and limb to get us to this day. It was worth it. The queue was long, the crowd control chaotic and the process painfully slow, but we got there at 21.00 (our time) last night. To the many Zimbabweans with us in the queues, thank you for your support and encouragement, without it our faith might have failed. Together, let us hope we will complete the change.
Wendy, Harare, Zimbabwe

The voting process is an organised chaos. However things seem to be calm for now, please let it remain this way as in Africa anything can happen
Waugh Criag, Zimbabwe

I joined the queue around 7am and managed to vote at 2110hrs, 14hrs in the queue.

Rutendo Mamoyo, Harare, Zimbabwe
I joined the queue around 7am and managed to vote at 2110hrs, 14hrs in the queue. 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, Mugabe does not have any chance this time, we really need a change, we really appreciate the good work he did but its time for him to call it a day and hand over power to Tsvangirai,
Rutendo Mamoyo, Harare, Zimbabwe

I queued for seven only to be told that I am on the "special list" which dictates that I cannot vote. I am a citizen, have always voted and have fully complied with all the repressive laws that have been introduced of late. I have been denied my constitutional right and therefore the electoral process is seriously flawed and unlawful. It is a desperate ploy to rig the elections along with many other methods of disenfranchising Zimbabweans. These elections are NOT free and fair and any commentator that says otherwise should be ashamed of themselves. This institutionalised thuggery is bringing Zimbabweans together more and more in their determination to rid themselves of this evil regime.
Simon Spooner, Zimbabwe

It's high time for Africans to think wisely, and Zimbabwe is a big test for the African democracy. President Mugabe should not use people for personal gain. We need a free world for all people from all races and different corners of the globe. Choose wisely! Good luck.
Kaberuka, Rwanda

The queue behind me stretched about 2 kilometres

Brian , Zimbabwe
Some observations by my mum on the Presidential Election in Harare. I arrived at Highlands School at 5.45 am today armed as suggested, with breakfast sandwiches, coffee, cold water, a chair and an umbrella as it looked like rain. There were at least 300 people in the queue already, and the queue stretched about 200 metres to the locked school gates. The poll should have opened at 7.00 but there was an electricity cut which lasted until 7.20 when the gates were opened. By that time, the queue behind me stretched past the traffic lights on Enterprise Rd and down to Orange Grove Drive, about 2 kilometres. Many people in the queue had cell-phones and were in touch with others near the end of the queue. Due to the disorganisation, at least 200 people pushed into the queue from the side gates of the school and went straight to the head of the queue - we couldn't understand why we hadn't moved in an hour, and then we'd moved a few paces and another hour went past without moving. Senior citizens were allowed to move to the head of the queue, which no one minded, but we only heard later about those who had pushed in. At about 10.00 am the police closed the gates and operated a boom near the Hall where the voting took place, only letting in about 10 people at a time into each area. I finally managed to vote at 2.10 p.m. and estimated that about 600 people had voted in that time. I could see why - our names had to be checked on 4 different rolls and as those checking didn't know the alphabet, this took ages! Two of the ballot slips I was given were put down on wet spilled ink and the outside was marked. I asked for new forms but was told that they would not be considered 'spoilt papers' and had to use them. I then asked the person to wipe away the ink before the same thing happened to others, but didn't see if it was done as I was told I was holding up the voting. At this rate the thousands in the queue will not get through by Sunday evening, and considering that many will only try tomorrow when there will be thousands more, may be deprived of their vote. In other Elections, there have been many more polling stations operating in our area with only short queues forming, but the number has been deliberately cut in the towns, and increased in the rural areas where the ruling party hopes the vote will reflect more ZanuPF votes.
Brian , Zimbabwe

The atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed with people chatting and cracking jokes

Lee & Bob, Harare, Zimbabwe
We were up at 4 a.m. on Saturday and together with my maid and her daughter (who works as our receptionist at our small business) were in the queue to vote by 4.45 a.m. - and we were not the first! Our polling station was a tent and obviously some police personnel had slept there overnight. They were trying to set things up by the light of one tiny little stub of candle! Until about 6 a.m. my husband and I were the only whites in the quickly growing queue but the atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed with people chatting and cracking jokes. The atmosphere was very optimistic at that time of the morning. My son and his wife joined the queue about 6.15 a.m. and were about 60 - 80 people behind us. The polling station only opened at about 7.30 and they allowed 5 or 6 elderly and handicapped people to "jump the queue". We eventually voted at about 8 a.m. My son and his wife only managed to cast their vote at about 10.30. The queue was very restless because it was taking so long to process the voters. By the time they left, the queue was as least 400m long. This was not a "single line" queue either as people were standing in 2's and 3's and even in family groups. There was no way that all these people were going to be processed that day. You enter the tent, they check your hands for the dye to see if you've already voted. Then they checked 3 (!) voters rolls to see if you name is there - this took the longest time. Then you put your hands in the dye, get your three voting papers, make your mark and put the papers in the box. Only then do they allow the next voter in! We are praying that sanity will prevail and that people will vote for the future of our once wonderful country!
Lee & Bob, Harare, Zimbabwe

The elections are not fair

Ruth Bailey, UK
My mother, a UK passport holder, born in Zimbabwe, resident in Harare, queued for 7 hours this morning. When she got to the front she was told she could not vote, she had been at the high court in the week to ensure that she was registered. How can this be fair? A friend of hers, born in the UK, also with a UK passport did vote. The elections are not fair. The people of Zimbabwe deserve a chance.
Ruth Bailey, UK

l have just talked to my mother, two brothers and three sisters who have all voted this afternoon after waiting almost 8 hours in a queue. My mother told me that a family friend of ours, (a white farmer and his family) were not allowed to vote despite having renounced their citizenship in December last year.
Karikoga Chihota, England

We got up at 6.30 this morning and waited in a very friendly mixed race queue. The queue moved slowly but surely and we were back home at 10.00 after voting. (In time to watch the cricket - South Africa versus Australia).
Colin and Debbie Smith, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

I wasn't even able to register to vote. New government legislation demanded I give up my Zimbabwean citizenship since I have the right to British, which the Zim government's none too fond of.
Richard Strickland, South Africa

The waiting was over at last

Dave Parkinson, Zimbabwe
I voted at Coghlan school this morning, the people waiting in quite a long queue were in a jovial mood. The waiting was over at last, hopefully change is coming and Zimbabwe will be able to right itself from the shambles created by a totally corrupt and evil government.
Dave Parkinson, Zimbabwe

With a processing speed of just 35-40 voters an hour at the Marlborough, Harare polling station, it seems unlikely that many voters will get their say in this election
Craig Brash, Zimbabwe

I'm 17 years old so unfortunately I cannot vote this weekend but I would just like to let you know that my parents, my older sister and the people who work for us have been waiting to vote in a queue since 6:00am. It is now 4:29pm and it looks as thought they might not get to vote after waiting the whole day. It is ridiculous how Mugabe has gone and cut the number of voting stations down so much that it is very unlikely that most of this nation will be able to vote at all. This must be just another one of his many ways of destroying democracy in this country. This is in no way a free and fair election.
Caroline, Zimbabwe

I left Zimbabwe with my family about 5 months ago because of the mounting violence and the ridiculous cost of living. I have been following the coverage of the run up to the elections very closely and I have a very positive feeling about the outcome. Naturally, I am worried about the safety of my family and friends still living in Zimbabwe, but I have every hope for the future of one of the most friendly and beautiful countries in the world. To all the Zimbabweans, at home and abroad, best wishes for the future!
Christy Charlesworth, UK

At least our voting is done!

Les, Zimbabwe
We have just come back from an eight-hour queue to cast our votes in Harare. Our names were on the voters roll as they should have been, which was a relief. Some pensioners were being allowed into the front of the queue, but the policeman at the gate was only letting some into the front, and not others, depending on if he liked their faces I think. At least our voting is done! The rest is in the hands of the people of our country, and God!
Les, Zimbabwe

I have just spoken to a friend who lives on a farm near Harare International Airport. He says he has never seen his farm and the surrounding area so quiet. He will be voting tomorrow. I also spoke to my brother who is there and is at a friend's house having a braai(barbeque). He says on his way there he drove past several long voting queues with both blacks and whites, and they (the queues) all appeared peaceful.
Paul, Zimbabwean in Scotland

My thoughts are with everyone in Zimbabwe

Bridget Strong, Leeds, UK
I have just been on the phone to my parents, who are in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe to find out how things are going. At a polling station near them about 60 workers were turned away despite being listed on the electoral role. I cannot see how these elections will be free and fair, but we can only hope that enough people vote despite all the intimidation. My thoughts are with everyone in Zimbabwe - how I wish I was there during this historical time for Zimbabweans!
Bridget Strong, Leeds, UK

I voted earlier. There was a large police presence, though the general atmosphere was positive. There was general distrust for the whole process and people in the queue were highly sceptical of the political process.
Adam, Zimbabwe

Ward 6 is very peaceful. The process is rather slow, frustrating but the excitement is very high as people are determined to see this dictator go and go forever.
Herbert Nyathi, Zimbabwe

Some have been at the polling stations as early as 4am local time

Munyaradzi Makoni, Zimbabwe
Being a journalist I have not yet voted but I moved from one polling station to another in my town of Gweru in the Midlands province. Generally the mood is relaxed but there is a sense of eagerness for people to cast their votes. Some have been at the polling stations as early as 4am local time. The whole process is being punctuated by calmness but for a first time in as many years one can rule out voter apathy. In fact the reduced number of polling stations has made queues longer.
Munyaradzi Makoni, Zimbabwe

Sorry to hear that Veronique was refused her right to vote. I am in the same position aion as her but will be trying tomorrow anyway.
Phil, Zimbabwe

Yes, I have voted, or attempted to. As a permanent resident, I knew it was unlikely that I would be able to vote in the presidential election, but I went along at six am and joined the mostly good-humoured queue. As I expected, I was not permitted to vote for the President, but I certainly did not expect that I would also be denied the right to vote in the municipal elections being held for convenience (whose?) at the same time. It appears that the presiding officer had been informed that morning that non-citizens have also forfeited any right to vote in any election whatsoever - so that I as a resident of Harare, rate-payer and property owner am now denied any say in the election of a city council and mayor. This is truly outrageous, as these things should have no connection. What depths next?
Veronique Wakerley, Zimbabwe

It looks like the queues at the polling stations in Harare's low-density suburbs are between 200 and 400 metres long. I am going to vote later when hopefully the queues are shorter.
Garth, Harare, Zimbabwe

See also:

09 Mar 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe begins crucial poll
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