Development Politics

Long-Term Election Observation Update for September 2022

Young people registering to vote

By Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)

Introduction

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) periodically assesses the electoral and political environment to inform various interventions by stakeholders. The continued assessments are made possible by the efforts of ZESN Long-Term Observers, who from time to time send in updates concerning the situation on the ground. This report is a summary of observations made by ZESN Long-Term Observers for the month ending 30 September 2022.

Political Environment

During the month of September, the political climate was generally calm around the country. Regular political party meetings and gatherings were reportedly ongoing. It appears that political campaigns were less visible this month except in areas where by-elections were looming. For instance, in Buhera Ward 24, LTOs noted that political campaigns were visible   – ahead of next month’s local authorities by-elections, fliers, posters and door-to-door being the foremost ways of campaigning.

Zimbabwe continued to witness the emergence of new political parties ahead of next year’s plebiscite with the latest one being the launch of the Citizens Collaboration for Change party on the 3rd of September 2022.

On the 16th of September, dozens of youths demonstrated in Chitungwiza reportedly demanding the release of Zengeza West and Chitungwiza North Members of Parliament Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole, who have been denied bail since their arrest on the 14th of June this year.

Delimitation of Electoral Boundaries

The delimitation exercise is on course with consultative meetings as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping ongoing. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is set on completing the exercise of mapping constituency and ward boundaries by the end of the year. Despite consultative meetings going on, reports by LTOs indicate that the level of engagement and consultation by ZEC was very low.

By-elections

On the 3rd of September, ZEC administered by-elections in Bulilima Rural District Council’s Ward 1, 14, and 16. The three Local Assembly seats fell vacant following the resignation of Ward 1 and 14 councillors namely Tonny Mlotshwa (ZANU PF) and Ntungamili Dube (ZANU PF) and the death of Ward 16 representative Delani Mabhena (ZANU PF).

Out of the three seats, ZANU-PF retained one whilst the other two went to the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party. ZESN deployed static observers to three (3) polling stations and three (3) Ward Collation Centres. Additionally, ZESN had a mobile observer team that covered an additional six (6) polling stations in the three (3) wards.

Below are the results of the Bulilima By-Elections:

WardCandidateSexParty1Votes
 

 

 

 

1

Moyo DaltonMPPP12
Moyo EphraimMCCC385
Ndlovu Kossam. PMZANU-PF315
Nyoni LindiweFCGC7
 

 

 

 

14

Dube ExperienceMZANU-PF459
Moyo EphraimMCCC332
Moyo LinosMZAPU18
 

 

 

16

Moyo JaneFZANU-PF118
Moyo MakhadiFCCC131
Ncube HitmanMZAPU34

 

In October 2022, ZEC will administer by-elections in six (6) wards across six (6) Local Authorities in two phases.

By-elections are scheduled for Nyanga Rural District Council’s Ward 27 as well as Mberengwa RDC, Ward 15. On the 22nd of October, by-elections will be held in Insiza RDC (Ward 4), Mutare Municipality (Ward 18), Buhera RDC (Ward 24), and Matobo RDC (Ward 2).

The table below is a summary of all the by-elections that are scheduled for next month:

 

Local AuthorityWardDateCause of Vacancy
1Nyanga RDC2708 OctDeath2
2Mberengwa RDC1508 OctDeath
3Insiza RDC422 OctDeath
4Mutare Municipality1822 OctDeath
5Buhera RDC2422 OctDeath
6Matobo RDC222 OctDeath

 

Mobile Civil Registration Exercise

The Civil Registry Department has been conducting a mobile civil registration exercise since March this year. The exercise, which is scheduled to end on the 30 of September, was ongoing in various parts of the country as teams from the Civil Registry’s department were moving from one place to another at different intervals.

 

Voter Education and Registration

LTO reports indicate that during the period covered by this report, voter education efforts were mostly directed at voter registration and the forthcoming delimitation exercise. ZESN LTOs witnessed activities of various Civil Society Organizations with respect to voter education including Project Vote263 in Magwegwe; ZimRights in Musikavanhu, Murehwa among other areas ]Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in Bulawayo.

In Makonde RDC, an organization known as Whispers, reportedly managed to assist 20 young women on the 16 of September 2022 from ward 9 Makonde to go and register to vote and these were successfully registered.

ZESN held several voter education activities with various stakeholders, particularly on voter registration and delimitation sensitization. ZESN conducted a series of provincial delimitation webinars and virtual focus group discussions on delimitation

ZESN also hosted a Media Elections Academy in the first week of September in Kadoma to inform and educate media practitioners on the delimitation of electoral boundaries in Zimbabwe, and how they were expected to report on the process.

Voter registration and delimitation sensitization roadshows were also conducted at Sadza Growth Point in Mashonaland East.

The ZEC partnered with ZESN on this event and managed to register fifty-two (52) new registrants.

ZEC offices across the 63 district centres and 10 provincial capitals remained open and voter registration was ongoing. Political parties, sitting and aspiring legislators as well as councillors in some areas were reportedly engaging citizens on various platforms including funeral gatherings and social media encouraging them to register to vote ahead of the 2023 plebiscite.

On a national scale, indications are that turnout for voter registration remains very low. However, the rate at which people are frequenting ZEC registration centres in some districts was said to have improved, for example in Lupane and Chiredzi.

ZESN notes the efforts by ZEC to make electoral information easily accessible. One of such efforts is the recently revamped ZEC website which is easier to navigate.

Recommendations

ZESN encourages all eligible citizens to register to vote at the available registration centres. The Network also encourages the ZEC to continually update information on its website, especially on the notice board. In light of the ongoing delimitation exercise, ZESN implores ZEC and other accredited stakeholders to embark on intensive voter education programs particularly focused on delimitation.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende