The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) says it will consider another voter registration exercise after statistics showed a 2% increase in registered voters from 2018.
On Tuesday, Zec released a statement stating that as at June 10, the country’s registered voters numbered 5 804 975, a 2% increase on 5 695 706 from 2018.
Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana yesterday told NewsDay that the commission would consider conducting another voter registration blitz before the polls.
“The voters roll is a changing document. The commission has also been removing the deceased and adding new voters. We removed around 26 000 and 47 000 at some point,” he said.
“As usual, Zec will definitely consider another registration blitz. We really feel for the rural community because they’re very far away from our offices. But people have to wait and hear with the commission. We will share our plan towards 2023.”
Electoral watchdogs said it was imperative that Zec carries out another voter registration exercise before elections expected next year.
The poor turnout of new voters flies in the faces of both the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s ambitious plans to attract five million and six million new voters, respectively, for the 2023 polls.
Zec said females constitute 53,8% and males 46,1% of the registered voters.
The watchdogs said the 2% increase points to high voter apathy in the country.
Electoral watchdogs said Zec’s figures were disappointing because they showed that young people in the country, who constitute the majority of the population, are not interested in the elections.
“It’s shocking that the registration blitzes that were done by Zec have not achieved the desired results. The commission needs to go back to the drawing board and devise campaigns which can encourage youths to participate in electoral processes assuming that they constitute a large number of potential voters. Remember, Zec is targeting at least two million new youthful voters,” Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairperson Andrew Makoni said.
“It appears elections don’t mean anything to our youths and it must be established why. Elections have not changed anything or transformed their lives. Our successive governments have not delivered and the youth are expressing their displeasure through apathy. As stakeholders we must address the root cause of this.”
Statistics also show that Harare Metropolitan province has the highest number of registered voters at 952 520, while Matabeleland South province has the lowest figure of 267 308.
“Our greatest undoing has been an indifferent youth population which is not forthcoming. Unfortunately, this is the biggest demographic group. There is need for another round of a voter registration blitz and hopefully there will be improved service delivery from Zec. Previous exercises were marred by a lot of irregularities. It’s also incumbent upon the civil society to complement Zec’s efforts,” Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust director Ignatius Sadziwa said.
Political analyst Kudakwashe Munemo said: “I note that there are about nine million people that remain untapped. Political parties intending to win elections must focus on mobilising between 2,2 and 3,2 million citizens to register to vote. Civil society organisations also have a huge role to play in providing civic and political education.”
CCC deputy secretary for elections Ellen Shiriyedenga said massive under registration of young voters clearly indicates that there were serious challenges to voter mobilisation efforts.
“This can also be perceived as a deliberate attempt to suppress the youth because there are no mechanisms to ensure that they’re registered. Most young people were not aware of the registration exercise, while others did not have identity documents. Under the circumstances, another voter registration blitz is very essential. If it’s not done, the outcome of the 2023 elections will not represent the majority,” Shiriyedenga said.
Zanu PF party commissar Mike Bimha said: “I haven’t seen the figures yet, so I wouldn’t comment on things that I didn’t see.”-Newsday