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Thu Oct 23 19:52:53 SAST 2014

Polls open in Zimbabwe constitution referendum

Sapa-AFP | 16 March, 2013 09:38
A polling officer fixes a sign indicating a polling station in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. File photo
Image by: Emmanuel Chitate / Reuters / Reuters

Polls opened in Zimbabwe early Saturday for a referendum on a new constitution that would curb President Robert Mugabe's powers and pave the way for elections later in the year.

The country's main political parties, including Mugabe's long ruling ZANU-PF, are in favour of the proposed law changes, making the simple majority needed for a "yes" vote a near certainly.

Voting kicked off at a slow pace with some short queues outside polling stations.

In Chitungwiza, a sprawling town on the fringes of the capital, as few as three people lined up to cast their ballots.

In Harare's flashpoint township of Mbare, where violence broke out on the eve of polling, 20 voters queued in line.

But Takawira Marimo, a 47-year-old handyman on his way to the second city of Bulawayo, stopped by at polling station in Mbare.

"I have done the right thing, I have exercised my right. I wanted to vote before I start my work today," he said.

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