Fears of voter apathy in 2018 polls

HARARE – After the voter apathy which marred the recent Chiwundura by-election, analysts have said electoral reforms are the only way to increase voter interest in 2018 elections.

In the by-election, a large number of people refrained from casting ballots, with the voter turnout rate at 22 percent.

Zanu PF’s Brown Ndlovu polled 9 426 votes, while his closest rival, National Constitutional Assembly’s (NCA) Takudzwa Guzete, got 445 votes.

Brighton Mudzviti of Free Zim Congress and Webster Zulu of the Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe polled 145 and 118 votes, respectively.

The Chiwundura seat fell vacant in April this year following the death of Zanu PF MP Kizito Chivamba.

Based on the statistics, analysts told the Daily News on Sunday that without electoral reforms, voter apathy will characterise next year’s election.

“It shows that people have no appetite to continue voting without reforms and expect change. People are tired of being taken for a ride. The statistics should set the opposition parties thinking,” political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said.

“The opposition parties will not defeat Mugabe, if there are no reforms. Reforms are key in increasing voter interest in elections and ensuring free and fair elections,” added Saungweme.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network — the largest independent elections observer group — said the Chiwundura low voter turnout was worrying.

Analysts have consistently said next year’s elections would give the opposition parties a chance to finally upset President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF, as long as they were united.

However, haggling over who should lead the coalition among the opposition leaders has cast serious doubts about their ability to sway the electorate in deciding the eagerly-awaited elections.