Boost Voter Turnout Political Parties Told

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Andrew Makoni -ZESN-Chairperson

Election Watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has urged political parties to encourage their constituents to participate in by elections in a bid to improve voter turnout.

Experts are on record bemoaning low voter turnout during by elections,

In Zimbabwe, by-elections occur when a party recalls an elected official or in the event of their death.

Since the August 2023 elections the election management body, Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) has held by elections in November, December 2023 and February 2024 across the country.

This was after self-appointed Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) Secretary General Sengezo Tshabangu initiated recalls of legislators and councilors.

In a report issued after the 9 March 2024 by election ZESN urges political parties to play their part in getting out voters to vote.

“More needs to be done by political parties to encourage the electorate to ensure improved voter turnout in local authority by-elections and the enjoyment of political and electoral rights afforded them by Section 67 of the Constitution,” reads the report.

Section 67 of the constitution provides that every Zimbabwe aged 18 and above have the right to participate in free, fair and regular elections.

Opposition political parties and civil society organizations have voiced concerns about the unequal playing field, alleging that it unfairly advantages the ruling party.

While the by-elections held on 9th March were reportedly peaceful, elections in Zimbabwe typically involve violence and intimidation.

However, in the lead-up to the Mabvuku constituency by-election on 9th December 2023, a CCC supporter, Bishop Tapfumaneyi Masaya, campaigning for a recalled candidate, allegedly suffered abduction and subsequent death.

Experts cite this incident as a significant factor influencing voter abstention from the plebiscite.

As a result, some eligible voters have stayed away from exercising their constitutional right.