Voter apathy disturbing: NGOs

CIVIL society organisations under the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) have said there was “political fatigue” in the country as evidenced by the apathy which characterised last weekend’s polls.

The NGOs, which met yesterday in Harare to review last weekend’s harmonised elections, also noted deficiencies in the electoral process such as the absence of constitutional safeguards and the need for an independent monitoring body.
“As civil society we have to be concerned about the voter apathy we witnessed. Apathy mirrors the political fatigue of the citizens as it reflects the non-existence of a vibrant democracy in our country,” said the NGO body. Nango said in some constituencies only 30% to 40% registered voters cast their vote while eligible voters did not register.
In their presentation, the NGOs said people were turned away while others citizens did not want to vote.
“The enhancement of citizen participation in issues of governance and democracy is therefore a challenge for civil society,” Nango said.
Nango said there was need to address the issues of constitutional safeguards to ensure a better process next time the country holds elections.
“Zimbabwe urgently needs constitutional safeguards and a legal framework which is conducive for a free and fair electoral environment; freedom of speech, information and assembly has to be ensured and journalists must have liberty to research and report,” Nango noted.
“A truly independent and impartial electoral monitoring body is needed as the ZEC has failed to be such a body,” it said.
They said many controversies have surrounded the elections including issues around the demarcation of election boundaries which were favourable to the ruling party and the delay in the announcement of results.
Meanwhile thousands of Zimbabweans stayed home on polling day with a minority of registered voters casting their ballots in the crucial elections.
The polls were supposed to shut the door on President Mugabe’s uninterrupted 28-year rule but a split opposition vote allowed Zanu PF to gain crucial parliamentary seats. At least eight seats were lost in this way.
In Lupane West, Zanu PF won the parliamentary seat with 3 311 votes while the two MDCs had a combined total of 5 049 which could easily have dislodged Zanu PF.
In Chirumanzi the MDC factions fielded two candidates who both polled a total of 5 538 which would have seen their party prevail over Zanu PF which secured 4 631 votes to win the seat.
It was the same story in Mazowe South where the combined MDC vote was 5 453 while Zanu PF won with 4 109 votes. In Vhungu Zanu PF polled 4 287 votes while the candidate of the Tsvangirai faction combined with the Mutambara candidate polled a total of 5 701 which could have seen the opposition secure the seat. — Staff Writers.