STAFF WRITER 2 March 2017
HARARE – A youth pressure group has called on Parliament to amend the
Electoral Act to introduce compulsory voting ahead of the 2018 elections.
According to Youth Advocacy for Voter Enlightenment and Progressive
Orientation (Yavepo), the number of people who voted in 2013 elections was
so low it brings the legitimacy of the current government into question.
President Robert Mugabe easily won re-election in Zimbabwe’s 2013
presidential election but a low voter turnout dashed his hopes of a
massive popular mandate, officials and analysts have said.
“Less than 3,5 million people voted in the last election yet over 6,5
million were eligible to do so,” said Yavepo director and former student
leader Zachariah Mushawatu.
“Democracy is a principle that is based on getting consent from the
majority to rule.
“When almost half of the people eligible to vote do not engage in the
process of giving consent to those that have offered themselves up for
election, it is very difficult to call those who are selected in such a
“Compulsory voting should be introduced to ensure the largest number of
citizens’ possible vote to avoid legitimacy issues,” he said.
Mushawatu said that voting was such an important process that it should
not be viewed as an optional right but a compulsory duty.
“Voting is a civic duty much like paying taxes. The problem is that in
this country it is currently viewed as a right meaning someone can choose
not to exercise it.”
At least 22 countries worldwide, especially in Europe, have introduced
legislation for compulsory voting while only 11 have implanted it.
Where it has been implemented, after each election, all apparent
non-voters are sent a letter demanding that they pay a penalty or provide
a valid and sufficient reason for failing to vote.
Valid reasons include being involved in an accident or being diverted on
the way to the polling station by public duty, for example to save a
They do not include disliking or not knowing enough about the available
choice of candidates.