An election watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC) has urged the country’s election management body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to explore avenues of motivating citizens to engage in electoral and democratic processes.
This follows an extremely low turnout during the recently held Local Authority by-election in ward 16, Harare West. The by election was held to fill vacancies which resulted from the death of the then sitting councilor Lancelot Mudavanhu who passed on in July this year.
“We urge the election management body and all the stakeholder to explore avenues of motivating citizens to engage in electoral and democratic processes.
“Voting was largely characterized by low voter turnout. This could be attributed to the fact that the electoral management body, though conducted voter education, their work should be consistent with Marondera By-elections and the June 16th by –elections where they managed to conduct 10 day voter registration,” said ERC in a statement.
The election think tank also said, “Lack of interest in the by-election could be attributed to inadequate voter education and the broader lack of interest on governance issues among citizens.”
ERC, also noted the inadequacy of voter education evidenced in the significant number of turned away voters, including voters turning up in the wrong ward, and not bringing the required identity documents.
ERC bemoaned the unreformed legal framework for elections.
“The legal framework remains unchanged and its unconstitutional provisions remained problematic during the 7th November 2015 by-election.
“By way of example, there still exists confusion in terms of how the postal vote is operationalized especially for those that will be doing election work on polling.
“Whilst the recently gazetted General Laws Amendment Bill attempts to clarify the issue of postal votes, the recently held by-elections could not witness any postal voting since the regulations are yet to be finalized through an amendment by Parliament of Zimbabwe,” said ERC
The election watchdog castigated the presence of members of the police force in the polling stations saying that the police’s sole mandate is to provide order and security.
“The role of the police, which should be confined to providing order and security during polling was not properly maintained and defined with reports of police details aiding in the polling process and periodically requesting election statistics and reporting these to unknown institutions,’ reads the statement.
However ERC noted that the poll was well organized signaling ZEC’s preparedness.
“The conduct of the poll was well organized and professional, an indication that ZEC was fully prepared logistically. Polling officers seemed to have been well trained and were quite cooperative on Election Day.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), established 14 polling stations in the ward. Generally the commission was ready for the election as all polling centers were well resourced, opened on time, followed the same procedures however of concern was the high number of security personnel on the day with an average of 4 police officers at each of the polling stations,” said ERC.
Results for the Ward 16 Harare Municipality
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission