THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) says the illegal recalls of elected members of parliament and council have eroded the essence of polls which attributed to the voter apathy in the just-ended by-elections.
Zimbabwe conducted by-elections over the weekend to fill in six parliamentary seats and 17 councillors who were recalled by the self-proclaimed secretary general of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Sengezo Tshabangu.
The by-elections were marred by lower voter turnout with only 23.2% voting.
In a statement, ZCC said the weekend’s statistics are a reflection of how the electorate is frustrated with the elections.
“The Church expresses deep concern regarding the widespread voter apathy observed during the elections. According to the data collected by our observers, the average voter turnout for the observed constituencies was 23.2%. Comparably, the 26 March 2022 by-elections were much better as they recorded a turnout just below 50%.
“This shows that the voters or people of Zimbabwe in general have lost trust in electoral processes. Zimbabweans today seem to consider elections as a ceremonial process rather than a democratic way to express their preferences for desired leadership. This speaks to the larger discontent with the nature of our political processes and our democratic trajectory,” said ZCC.
“The Church strongly asserts that recalling elected officials by individuals or political parties is a disconcerting act that disrespects the will of the electorate. Such actions, driven by a power-focused agenda, blatantly neglect the wishes of Zimbabwean voters and impose huge costs on the nation.
“This not only undermines the fundamental significance of elections as a process designed to accurately portray the will of the people but also diminishes the overall importance of elections to genuinely reflect the collective desires of the citizens.”
The recalls of elected officials have been castigated for keeping the country in election mode months after holding the general plebiscite.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa labelled the recalls of his members of parliament a Zanu PF project.
“This regression in constitutional democracy, where elected representatives can be recalled without due regard for the electorate stands as a pivotal factor contributing to voter apathy which was evident during the 3 February 2024 by-elections.
“When leaders are elected by a small segment of society, their ability to truly represent the people becomes compromised. It is deeply concerning that we now have Members of Parliament (MPs) who secured their positions with the support of only 10% of the registered voters in their constituencies.
“In the Pelandaba-Tshabalala constituency for instance, only 2465 out of the 22,803 registered voters participated in the just-ended by-election, leaving out a substantial 20,338 potential voters whose voices were not heard. Our current context is demonstrating that electoral processes are failing to serve as a process that reflects the collective will of the people,” said ZCC further.
ZCC pleaded with political actors to consider the impact of their actions on the electorate.
“The 3 February 2024 by-elections have further decimated the little confidence the electorate had in the electoral process in Zimbabwe. The Church urges reconsideration of our political actions and the conduct of our electoral processes. Restoring the integrity of elections is paramount in fostering a democratic society where the voice of the people remains a cornerstone of good governance. This is crucial considering our aspirations for the transformation of our country.”