THE Election Resource Centre (ERC) has expressed concern over the decline in participation in electoral processes among Zimbabweans, adding that many people stopped voting in protest of recalls of opposition members.
In a statement after the February 3 by-elections, ERC attributed the declining voter participation to a form of protest to recalls.
The ruling Zanu PF won all the seats in the by-elections held in Chegutu West, Seke, Goromonzi South, Mkoba North, Pelendaba-Tshabalala and Zvimba East constituencies.
“The influence of recalls on the democratic character of elections is apparent in the decreasing voter participation witnessed in by-elections subsequent to the 2023 harmonised elections. Voter apathy erodes the core principles of democracy,” ERC said.
The election watchdog also noted that inadequate intra-party democracy, procedural deficiencies, and candidate selection regulations contributed to low turnout impacting voter motivation and active participation.
“Moreover, inadequate intra-party democracy, procedural deficiencies, and shortcomings in the regulations governing the selection of candidates could be recognised as elements contributing to the low turnout, impacting voters’ motivation and active participation in electoral processes,” the report read.
Meanwhile, ERC has also called on the youths to actively participate in the electoral process.
“Out of 215 16 register voters 112 570 were females (52,3%), males 60 496 (28%) and youths 42 096 (19%). We urge youth and all Zimbabweans to actively participate in these by-elections given that elections remain a key hallmark of any democracy as citizens are accorded the right and opportunity to choose their leaders and give them legitimacy to act on their behalf as part of the social contract,” it said.
“The challenges facing youth participation in Zimbabwe’s elections remains evident and, therefore, the need for increased efforts to address these disparities.”
It also called on authorities to ensure the safety and security of observers when discharging their duties without fear of reprisal to ensure public confidence in the electoral process and electoral credibility.
“It is imperative to establish clear mechanisms for the protection of observers, including legal frameworks that explicitly prohibit any form of harassment or reprisal against them.”
ERC also called on political parties to promote a culture of non-violence and tolerance to ensure that citizens participate freely in electoral processes.