Disabled Zimbabwean voters complain over inaccessible polling stations
"Imagine struggling to push a wheelchair through the sand to access a polling station‚ it kills your spirit."
These are the words of Maxwell Ndlovu‚ a wheelchair-bound man in Victoria Falls protesting about inaccessible polling stations in the tourist town.
Ndlovu is a resident of Mkhosana surburb and said people living with disability in the town felt discriminated against as most polling stations were inaccessible to them.
This is despite the fact that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) provided a lower booth to cater for disabled people‚ especially those with physical disabilities.
But Ndlovu said some of the open-space polling stations were situated in sandy areas where rolling a wheelchair was difficult.
Ndlovu said they once raised the issue with the ZEC when the tents were pitched.
"We are not saying we want to be part of the process but our concern is that the place where the tent is‚ is inaccessible. You go there pushing yourself on the wheelchair and then you would need somebody to push you through the sand‚" said Ndlovu referring to an open space in Victoria Falls' Ward 11 where three tents were pitched to provide polling stations.
He said the disabled would soon petition the electoral commission over the issue.
"We wish in future they consider us. Some haven’t enough children and hence there is no one to push them‚" he added.
Some disabled persons‚ especially the partially blind‚ were among those who were being assisted to vote at polling stations.
Ndlovu said he had received similar complaints from colleagues in other wards‚ a clear indication of a lack of consideration for the disabled.
Even some of the classrooms used as polling stations were not wheelchair-friendly.
In the rural areas around Monde‚ Ndlovu‚ Ndimakule and Chisuma in Hwange West constituency‚ presiding officers said people had come in droves between 7am and 12 noon and most stations had recorded an average of 300 voters during that time.
Polling closed at 7pm on Monday.