Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), the country’s largest independent election body that co-ordinates activities pertaining to elections has recommended Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to come up with a more comprehensive voter registration methodology that ensures that all eligible voters are captured by the new polling station based voter registration system.
This follows the Mhondoro-Mubaira National Assembly by-elections held last Saturday, which saw ZANU PF scooping 13,934 votes against Freedom Front Party (FFP) which had 1,056 votes.
“ZESN recommends that ZEC comes up with a more comprehensive voter registration methodology that ensures that all eligible voters are captured by the new polling station based voter registration system,” says ZESN in a statement.
The independent election body observed that only ZANU PF had agents inside the polling station while Freedom Front failed to field party agents.
“The failure by Freedom Front party to field party agents is regrettable given the importance of having party representatives in polling stations to assess whether the by-election was held in conformity to local, regional and international standards and best practice,” reads the statement.
Meanwhilwe, ZESN observers noted a heavy presence of police officers inside and outside of polling stations especially at the Ward collation centres with an average of six police officers per polling station. The heavy presence of police officers at polling stations might be intimidating to voters.
The Mondoro – Mubaira by-elections were characterized by voter apathy with majority of the youth not partaking in the voting.
“ZESN observer reports show that the turnout was generally low especially for the youth in Mhondoro-Mubaira. This trend of low participation in electoral processes is consistent with trends during previous by-elections held in 2014 and 2015,” says ZESN.
Going forward ZESN recommends that ZEC should consider piloting the biometric voter registration (BVR) in future by-elections as it prepares to introduce the system in 2018, the adoption of BVR will go a long way in enhancing transparency and integrity of the voter registration processes in Zimbabwe.