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Low Turn Out, Peaceful Voting in Zimbabwe ZANU-PF Stronghold

Polls are closed in Zimbabwe where parliamentary elections were conducted Thursday. Voting was peaceful in Zvimba North, about 90 kilometers north of Harare. Zvimba North had double the number of polling stations than in previous elections.

At the start of voting early Thursday, there were few lines in the Zvimba North voting district, a huge area which is also close to President Robert Mugabe's birth place and rural home.

Zvimba North is one of Zanu-PF's strongholds. The party's candidate is local government minister Ignatius Chombo. At a dozen of 83 polling stations in the area, all opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) electoral agents were in place.

It appeared as though there was one independent local observer at each polling stations as well.

At three polling stations, VOA witnessed Zanu-PF officials taking the names of people as they walked in to vote.

A Zanu-PF voter, Lameck Shundo, who has recently been given a small piece of land by Zanu-PF, voted in a small town, Mutorashanga. He said he voted for the ruling party because he liked it. He said in western countries, like the United States and Europe there was little democracy compared with Zimbabwe. He said he was confident that his party would win.

An MDC supporter who works at a local mining company who did not give his name, said Thursday was the last day Zanu-PF would be in power. He said his candidate, local businessman Prince Chibanda, would win easily.

Although it is a Zanu-PF stronghold he said many people pretended to be Zanu-PF, but would vote for the MDC.

"There are many, but most will vote for the MDC," he said. "Mugabe ...we want to fire him. This is his last day today. Tomorrow we are going to take all the keys from the president's office."

Most of the voters in the Zvimba North district looked healthy and well fed. Although there are few crops in comparison to five years ago, when commercial agriculture was still intact, many small corn fields remain.

Although information is still filtering into election observers in Harare, it seems that most opposition election agents were in place to monitor voting and counting around the country.

The peaceful atmosphere in most areas was broken suddenly in central Harare Thursday evening when police swooped down upon a peace demonstration in Central Harare and arrested scores of women, accused of holding an illegal gathering.