Some interesting titbits to mull over voting processes in Zimbabwe

Activism, Democracy, Zimbabwe

Titbit One

Deriving from the statistical figures of the 2012 Census there are approximately 6 070 537 adults in Zimbabwe. This means approximately 52% of the total Zimbabwean population are above 18 years of age. I am saying approximately here because up to date, ZimStats-the body mandated to conduct national Census- has only released the “preliminary” results from the 2012 Census and has not released all the full figures of that exercise, despite that the Census was concluded in September 2012; 9 months ago. How efficient, right!

Titbit Two

Zimbabwe has a total population of about 13.2 million. Of these, the RG says 5 867 642 were registered to vote as of October 2010. This means 87.8% of all eligible voters were registered to vote then. On the other hand Kenya has about 44 million citizens and of these about 12 616 627 were registered to vote in the 2013 elections. Now this is interesting, right? Is it because Zimbabweans are more educated about the importance of participating in ‘democratic’ processes than Kenyans? Is it that Kenyans are apathetic and do not engage political processes? Could it be that Kenyans were discouraged by the 2007/2008 electoral violence? But we also had a good share of that, so then was their violence worse than ours?  Do we as Zimbabweans have more faith in elections and so we always want to have our voices heard through the ballot? Or is it just as simple as that these figures are not accurate? Is it possible that some people registered to vote never registered to vote but were put on the voters’ roll by the Registrar General since he has all their birth, death, citizenship details as well?

A picture that I took of the scores of voters who thronged the Ongata Rongai Open Market in Nairobi, Kenya Polling Station to vote in March 2013

A picture that I took of the scores of voters who thronged the Ongata Rongai Open Market in Nairobi, Kenya Polling Station to vote in March 2013

Titbit Three

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission 3 316 082 Zimbabweans voted in the 16 March 2013 Referendum for a new Constitution of Zimbabwe. Of these, 3 079 966 voted ‘Yes’, 179 489 voted ‘No.’ Very impressive, right? I do wonder where these people came from though because having observed the process, the turnout-at least in Harare- was very low. On the other hand in Kenya 66.9% voted ‘Yes’, 30.7 voted ‘No’ and voter turnout was at 72.2%. Seems we Zimbabweans love our new constitution more than the Kenyans love theirs. Is it because our new Constitution is better than the Kenyan one? Is it because we yearned for a new Constitution more than they did? Could this have something to do with the fact that Zimbabweans hardly knew what they were voting for whereas Kenyans had several months in which they were intensively educated and informed about the contents of their Constitution and hence voting in Kenya was from a fully informed position?

Titbit four

According to a voters’ roll audit conducted by the Research and Advocacy Unit in October 2010, there were 41, 119 people aged over 100 years on the Voters Roll. It seems Zimbabwe is a healthy nation full of politically conscious and really old citizens, who want to stake their claim on the political landscape. I would love to interview all these people and find out what voting has meant to them for the past +/- 85 years, including the years when they were dis-enfranchised under white supremacist rule, their experiences with voting in an independent Zimbabwe and voting in all the subsequent elections.

Titbit Five

Did you know that the Registrar General is in charge of recording births? He is also in charge of recording deaths and is also in charge of awarding citizenship. Further, the RG is also in charge of the registration of voters; although under the transitional provisions of the new constitution such registration is supposed to be done under the supervision of ZEC. What does this mean for people considered to be aliens? What does this mean for the removal of dead people off the voters’ roll? What does it mean for the accurate recording of people eligible to vote? Is there enough supervision of these extensive powers? What safeguards are there for the abuse of power and manipulation of the voters’ roll?

Titbit Six

Did you know that before any voter is removed from the voters’ roll the Registrar General must send written notification of the intent to so remove?  This includes even people who are presumed dead. This is to allow the person to appeal the decision in case they have reason to believe that they should remain on the voters’ roll or in case they are actually not dead as presumed. Does anyone know if such notifications were given when the Registrar General removed the 969 620 ‘dead’ people that he removed from the voters’ roll as announced by the Herald on Friday 3 May 2013?

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