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Citizens in Action Southern Africa Attributes Low Voter Turnout in Recent By-elections to Lack of Trust in Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

Voters at a polling station and some election observers. (ZCC)
Voters at a polling station and some election observers. (ZCC)

An independent southern African entity, seeking durable social, economic and political change, says voter apathy in the recent council and parliamentary by-elections in Zimbabwe is due to lack of trust in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

In its latest report titled ‘Understanding Voter Apathy in Zimbabwe’, according to NewsDay newspaper, the Citizens Action Southern Africa (CIASA) said, “Trust in Zec is at an all-time low (42%) as of the last Afrobarometer of 2021. This is down from an all-time high of 48%. It is clear that Zimbabweans have little trust in the election management body, and this in turn influences their decision to go and vote. Without trust in the election authorities, voting feels like a waste.

"Huge turnouts characterised the campaign rallies of both the CCC [Citizens Coalition for Change] and Zanu-PF parties. However, this did not culminate in equal voter turnout. Political parties tended to hold star rallies as opposed to localised campaigns. This meant that the big numbers at the different venues did not mean the people were from that constituency. Furthermore, rallies are attended by all sorts of people, including unregistered voters, below 18 and non-members of the political organisation."

CIASA noted that the country has been experiencing episodes of voter apathy since the 1990s, with 31,7% voters recorded in 1996, 47% in 2005, and 42,7% voter turnout in 2008.

NewsDay reports that on young voters, CIASA noted that “in general, young voters are largely uncompelled to take part in elections. They see no particular immediate gain to their situation, be it unemployment, education and poverty, among others.

There were 29 parliamentary and 122 council seats which were up for grabs. The voter turnout, according to ZEC, was 35%.