Zimbabwean voters were asked to return to polling stations on Thursday in 40 wards where lengthy delays occurred during Wednesday’s election.
This decision was made even as the counting of votes had already started in other areas.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu-PF party, which has ruled for 43 years, are facing pressure to ensure a credible election.
International lenders and donors have been cautious due to Zimbabwe’s history of economic struggles, human rights issues, and electoral irregularities.
Eldred Masungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, expressed concerns about the delays affecting the election’s integrity and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
He mentioned that these issues might hinder some people from voting due to time and resource constraints.
Mnangagwa, 80, succeeded Robert Mugabe after a military coup in 2017. He won a controversial election in 2018 and is now seeking re-election for a second term.
The country faces economic challenges, including high inflation, a sharply devalued currency, and high unemployment. Many Zimbabweans rely on remittances from relatives abroad.
Mnangagwa’s main opponent is lawyer and pastor Nelson Chamisa, 45, from the Citizens Coalition for Change. Chamisa is determined to prevent Zanu-PF from manipulating the election.
Mnangagwa announced on Wednesday that voting would continue in the 40 affected wards due to delays caused by late printing of ballots, attributed to court challenges.
These wards represent less than 1% of the total, but they include 11 wards in Harare, an opposition stronghold, as well as areas in Mashonaland Central and Manicaland.
While parliamentary results were expected on Thursday, the presidential result was anticipated later, well before the five-day deadline. It’s uncertain if the extended voting will affect this schedule.
Independent analysts note that Zanu-PF has an advantage in the election due to historical use of state resources for its benefit.
However, both Zanu-PF and the electoral commission claim the election process will be fair.