Poll reveals massive voter fatigue, lack of confidence

The majority of Zimbabweans have expressed little confidence in the electoral systems and the current political environment.

More than two years after the formation of the Interim Government, an Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe (IDAZIM) opinion poll reveals that 52 percent of Zimbabweans believe that prevailing conditions would not allow free and fair polls.

The main reasons are political violence and the manipulation of electoral and state institutions. Indeed, 53 percent of people felt that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission lacked the capacity to run a free and fair election.

Unsurprisingly, there is a large degree of voter fatigue, with 24 percent of the respondents admitting that they were not registered to vote.

If you are not registered to vote, why not?

But Zimbabweans are still aware of how crucial the next elections will be and are divided as to when they should be held – although a majority would like them within the next two years.

Interestingly, despite the importance of the polls, a tenth of those surveyed said that they were no longer interested in elections.

When would like the next elections to be held?

Although some of the reforms proposed in the recent Electoral Amendment Bill are significant, they have failed to resolve the fundamental and structural problems that need to be addressed in order to restore the integrity of the ballot in Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, the reforms did not address issues to do with media plurality or equitable access to the media for political parties during election time, which has been a contentious issue due to biased reporting. There is also a need to reform presidential powers in relation to electoral laws as the president is a candidate in the very elections that he devises regulations for.

The draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) have curbed freedom of association and speech, which are critical components of a democratic election, and the repeal of these acts is critical to provide the space for genuine elections.

In addition, the independence and autonomy of ZEC is necessary for running credible elections. Depoliticisation of electoral governance can only be achieved by the establishment of an independent electoral management body, which must be able to level the political playing field and ensure that political actors comply with the law.

Independence does not mean total disconnection from government but that as a state institution, the body remains accountable to the state and public through parliament. The fact that ZEC’s functions are to a large extent subject to ministerial approval limits the operational independence of ZEC. – www.osisa.org

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