BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
ELECTION observers have warned that Zimbabwe could witness a poor voter turnout in the 2023 polls amid revelations that the number of registered voters has gone down by 63 000 from the 2018 statistics.
According to statistics released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) as at January 8, 2022, only 5 632 575 were registered to vote, down by 63 131 voters from the 5 695 706 who voted in the 2018.
Statistics show that there were 6 441 157 registered voters in the 2013 general elections.
Recent by-elections were marred by massive voter apathy owing to a lack of confidence in electoral processes among other reasons.
The Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (Zimcodd) in a survey conducted after the Saturday by-election said: “Zimbabweans have lost confidence in elections as a mechanism for bringing leadership change at both national and local levels.”
Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairperson Andrew Makoni said there was a general disinterest by members of the public to vote “because the polls are not changing things”.
“Zimbabwe has had several polls since independence, but the government has remained the same. The same economic problems still exist and the same government is still in power so there is no interest in participating in the polls,” Makoni said.
“At the moment the number of registered voters could be going down because of deaths and permanent migrations, at a time when the registration drive is very low.”
Election Resources Centre (ERC) legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga urged authorities to put in place measures that promote voter registration to ensure a huge voter turnout in the elections.
“Citizens are currently facing challenges as they try to access national identity cards for them to be able to register to vote. The inaccessibility of the registration centres is also another challenge which is limiting the number of the registered voters. However, all things being normal, a total population of 9,2 million can be registered voters,” Tsunga said.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should continue decentralising its registration centres so that we have more people registering to vote. Government should ensure that citizens have easy access to identity cards so that they can be able to register to
The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party is targeting six million votes in the upcoming elections while the ruling Zanu PF party is targeting five million votes.