Zimbabwe: Voter Apathy a Thing of the Past

Other countries have adopted compulsory voting and this has provided a rare opportunity to address the question of voter apathy.

Research has shown that wealthy citizens voted more than their working class counterparts, hence by exploiting the differential adoption of compulsory voting across states the policy increased voter turnout in countries such as Australia.

Australia’s voter turnout has been consistently high since the implementation of compulsory voting in 1925.

Comparing across Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, Australia’s adoption of compulsory voting significantly increased turnout and political participation.

Shifting focus to Nigeria, the systemic voter turnout since 2007 is an indication that Nigerians have greatly become apathetic towards elections.

Statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) have produced evidence of apathy.

Research has identified the institutional arrangement of the Nigerian state as a major factor for low voter turnout.

Politics in Nigeria is influenced by money, ethnic and religious factors. Since their independence in 1960, religious and ethnic politics characterise electioneering process and that is why it is practiced with bitterness and hatred.

The result of this is the apathetic and passive feeling of the citizens, leading to low voter turnout.

Zeroing in on Zimbabwe, citizen voter apathy has been a cause for concern in election history of the state.

Apathy has been used as a scapegoat by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the 2008 elections when they lost to Zanu PF.

On the other hand, Zanu PF continued to strategise so as to improve on voter education on the elections that followed in 2013.

It was observed from the past elections that youths and women are reluctant to go and vote, yet they constitute around 52 percent of the nation’s population.

If women participate in elections, the voter turnout will definitely increase.

During the voting in the referendum in 2013 for the new constitution, statistics showed that only two million voters cast their votes out of about five million eligible registered voters.

A majority of Zimbabweans are registered voters who intend to cast their ballots in the 2023 elections, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.

Young citizens are considerably less likely than their elders to be registered, and only slightly more than half of 18 to 35-year-olds say they will probably or definitely vote.

A survey conducted by Governance researchers has shown that from the reports by citizens, both registration rates and intention to vote also vary considerably by province.

Among respondents who are registered to vote, a resounding majority say they will probably or definitely cast their votes in the upcoming elections.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), launched two nationwide mobile voter registration exercises which saw a combined 194 625 new registrants being recorded in both phases, bringing the total cumulative figure of all registered voters as at 30 May 2022, including those who had registered in between phases to 5 795 547.

The first phase of the mobile voter registration exercise which ran from February 1 to 28 2022 saw 83 402 new registrants being captured while 111 223 entries were recorded during the second phase which ran from 11 to 30 April 2022.

On the other hand, the number of registered voters in a local authority is divided by the number of wards in that particular local authority to give the ward averages.

Although the voters’ roll closed on May 30 for purposes of delimitation, people can still register at the Commission’s 10 provincial and 63 district offices for the upcoming the 2023 harmonised elections since voter registration is a continuous process.

It is without doubt and logical to note that in the upcoming 2023 elections, voter turnout is likely to increase.

Judging from the past elections, voter turnout has been increasing each election.

As from 2008 turnout was around 42,37 percent, in 2013 it was on 59,24 percent and 2018 it was about 75 percent turnout.

With Zanu PF targeting five million votes, it will not be surprising if it wins 70 percent of the vote in the Presidential polls.


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