Voting was disrupted at Kalala Market Polling station in Luanshya district on the Copperbelt Province, after the station shut down temporarily, following near violence curls by irate voters forcing their way into the station.
The voters who lined up as early as 04:00 hours this morning were accusing poll staff of not following the queues and serving people that had just arrived shortly after the polling stations opened at 06:00 hours.
A check by ZANIS in Luanshya revealed that calm had returned to the station with heavy presence of armed police officers, with voters castings their ballots as expected.
Kalala Market polling station Presiding Officer Misodzi Zyala who confirmed the incident to ZANIS said the station was temporarily shut to allow for calm to return before proceeding with the exercise.
“The enraged voters outnumbered the two police officers manning the station and pushed their way into the polling station threatening to tear down the ballot papers.” She narrated.
Ms Zyala explained “the people started coming around 04:00 hours and immediately when we opened at 06: 00 hours the queues were already long. We explained to the people that we have two polling stations 1 and 2 within the same room, asking them to form two queues which led to a confusion and accusations that we are attending to people that came late”.
She said “the situation was slowly getting out of hand and people soon became unruly, we closed the door to calm the situation but they overpowered the two police officers and forced their way in and the situation was only calmed by police reinforcement that quickly responded”.
She added that the polling station was closed from 06:50 hours and later opened at 07:31 hours after the police officers managed to calm the crowd.
The station is being manned by heavy presence of police to maintain law and order.
And some people spoken to were eager to vote and only complained that the polling staff were not following order but had given chance to late comers to vote, disregarding the queues.
By 08:40 hours, over 150 people had cast their vote out of the 598 registered voters in Kalala Markert Polling station one.