Elections watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says the recently held by-elections in Gweru saw a significant drop in voter turnout owing to political illiteracy among the voters and lack of appreciation for the local authority by-elections.
Both ZANU-PF and CCC clinched two (2) each out of four (4) local authority seats that were being contested.
ZESN noted that there is a need for greater political literacy amongst the electorate to ensure improved voter turnout in local authority by-elections and the enjoyment of political and electoral rights afforded them by Section 67 of the Constitution.
According to its preliminary report, ZESN said voter turnout was meagre in Gweru Municipality wards.
“For instance, at CJR Primary School in Gweru Ward 18 as of 1830hrs, 35 people had voted out of a voter population of 645. In the same ward at Child Welfare, 58 people had voted by 1830hrs. In Ward 5 of Gweru Municipality, 86 people, out of a total of 448 turned out to vote.
However, this was in contrast to Binga, which had a significantly higher turnout.
“In Binga Ward 20, voter turnout was slightly higher than polling stations in Gweru Municipality. For instance, at 1830hrs, 228 out of 393 voted at Lubimbi Primary School. At Kavunikwa polling station 176 people voted out of the 289 expected.
Worryingly, ZESN added, at some polling stations, the number of turned away was significantly high. At Kavunikwa Primary School polling station in Ward 2o Binga, as of 1830hrs, 44 people had been turned away for several reasons including names not on the voter’s roll and turning up to the polling stations with the unacceptable documents.
At Lubimbi Primary School polling station, 31 out of 465 voters were turned away.
Meanwhile, ZESN has recommended that ZEC and CSOs provide continuous civic and voter education in areas where by-elections would be conducted to reduce instances of turned away and
It also called on voters to make use of the voters’ rolls displayed outside polling stations to enable them to identify the polling stations where they are supposed to cast their vote.