Looming voter apathy cause for concern


STATISTICS showing that the number of registered voters has been going down over the years are revealing, yet disturbing especially after the voter apathy witnessed in the weekend by-elections.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) recently said as at January 8, 2022, only 5 632 575 people were registered to vote, down from the 5 695 706 who voted in 2018.

Zec says there were 6 441 157 registered voters in the 2013 general elections.

What is even more disturbing is that a few months ago, Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana mocked the opposition for failing to mobilise millions of youths to register to vote.

According to Zec, only a paltry first-time voters were registered in 2021.

Widespread electoral participation by all stakeholders including the youth is a foundational element of a democracy and an important mechanism for voters to exercise policy-making and public spending oversight.

But as seen during the Saturday by-elections, the majority of the country’s youth are no longer interested in electoral processes, are not preparing to vote in the upcoming elections and have completely detached themselves from political activities.

This is despite the fact that they constitute the majority of the nation’s eligible voting population.

As the Registrar-General’s (RG) Office launches another voter registration blitz today, it is critical that it makes it easy for undocumented youths to obtain identification documents to enable them to register to vote in next year’s polls.

Young people between 18 and 24 years of age are most likely to be involved in the electoral process for the first time in their lives next year, but without IDs and in the absence of an enabling environment, their fate will remain in the hands of the adult population.

This generation of youth has grown up in a highly digitised society and focus should be on taking advantage of the technological media to encourage them to register as
voters. The use of sports influencers cannot be overemphasised.

The church has to spread the message to congregants while the RG’s Office ensures the acquisition of birth certificates and identity documents is less cumbersome.

This is because the issue of voter registration cannot be left to politicians alone, every representative democracy stakeholder must be involved in encouraging the youth to register to vote.