BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
INDEPENDENT election watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has urged political parties to invest in campaign processes to ensure a large voter turnout during polling elections.
Zesn said this in its latest report, noting a drop in voter turnout compared to the 2018 elections during the recently held by-elections in Glen View South and Mangwe constituencies won by the MDC and Zanu PF, respectively.
A Zesn analysis of the voter turnout shows that in Glen View South, the MDC votes decreased by 6 468 compared to 9 942 votes garnered by the opposition party during the 2018 harmonised polls.
In Mangwe, Zanu PF retained the national assembly seat, having garnered 4 553 votes, which is 3 191 less compared to the votes received in 2018.
“The drop in figures of the votes cast during the Glen View South and Mangwe National Assembly by-elections for both Zanu PF and MDC Alliance are a clear indication of voter apathy associated with by-elections,” the Zesn said in its analysis.
“Political parties should improve the quality of their campaign efforts to support improvement in the turnout of voters during the by-elections,” the independent election watchdog noted in its recommendations, adding a voter registration blitz by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is also necessary.
The organisation also deployed long-term observers (LTOs) prior to the elections to track electoral and political developments that occurred during the campaign season for the Glen View South and Mangwe constituencies.
“Zec should conduct periodic voter registration blitz and avail voter registration centres at the sub district level to facilitate registration by persons that were unable to register during previous blitz and those who have turned 18,” Zesn said.
Zec is currently registering voters in Bulawayo. However, the process has been marred by a poor turnout, the elections body has reported.
Among some of the recommendations by Zesn is for political parties to also invest in the training of polling agents and facilitate an inclusive process in the nomination of candidates.
“Zesn urges political parties to create structures, mechanisms and policies that facilitate the nomination of a more diverse range of candidates during the internal party primaries. This will make the process more inclusive,” the election watchdog body said.
“Political parties should invest in the recruitment, training and deployment of their party agents to allow parties to comment authoritatively on Election Day processes.”