ZESN’s comment on the ZEC BVR provisional statistics

Following several requests by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network ZESN and other stakeholders for Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release data, on the numbers of voters registered disaggregated by province and gender, the ZEC published the Biometric Voter Registration BVR data on its website in March 2018. Analysis of the data indicates that registration was generally high across all provinces. The BVR exercise resulted in higher numbers of youth and women registering as voters.

Below is a preliminary comparative analysis of the registration statistics using ZESN Population Projections released in May 2017, based on the 2012 Population Census data. ZESN will release a more detailed comparative analysis based on the 2013 voter turnout in due course.

Table 1: ZESN 2017 Projections and BVR Statistics – Overall Picture

Province ZESN 2017 Projections ZEC provisional BVR statistics
Men Women Total Men Women Total % registered
Mat North 177596 211996 389592 140898 182689 323587 83.1%
Midlands 397689 467496 865185 328247 389263 717510 82.9%
Mash East 341616 394173 735790 263840 321358 585198 79.5%
Mash Central 296783 323496 620279 230406 260332 490738 79.1%
Masvingo 321247 433067 754314 242715 340884 583599 77.4%
Mash West 411007 423407 834414 299849 311902 611751 73.3%
Manicaland 405871 506891 912762 284962 381981 666943 73.1%
Mat South 160059 196527 356586 104578 141972 246550 69.1%
Harare 651540 694278 1345818 366467 381453 747920 55.6%
Bulawayo 186055 223334 409389 99168 112108 211276 51.6%
Total 3349462 3874665 7224128 2361130 2823942 5185072 71.8%
Percentage 46.36% 53.63% 45.53% 54.46%

Table 1 shows an overall picture of both ZESN 2018 population projections and ZEC provisional BVR statistics. ZESN 2018 projections for the voting age population indicated that Harare has the highest number of people aged 18+ (134 818), followed by Manicaland (912 762), Midlands (865 185) and in fourth place is Mash West (834 414). The Province with the least number of projected population aged 18+ is Matabeleland South (356 586).

ZEC provisional BVR statistics (in the last column) shows that a substantial proportion of adult Zimbabweans (2 039 056) did not register in the BVR Blitz and mop up exercise or are yet to register. For example, Harare has a projected adult population of 1,3million (1 345 818) fewer than 800 thousand (747 920) have registered to vote. Thus the registered population of Harare, in light of the projected figure is 55.6%. The province with the highest proportion of registered voters is Matabeleland North (83.1%), followed closely by Midlands (82.9%). Bulawayo (51.6%) and Harare (55.6%) are at the bottom of the ladder of residents registered to vote.

Table 2: Statistics by gender

 


Province

ZESN 2017 Projections

ZEC provisional BVR statistics

 

% of registered women by Population Projection

 

% of registered men by Population Projection

Men

Women

Men

Women

Mat North

177596

211996

140898

182689

86.2%

79.3%

Midlands

397689

467496

328247

389263

83.3%

82.5%

Mash East

341616

394173

263840

321358

81.5%

77.2%

Mash Central

296783

323496

230406

260332

80.5%

77.6%

Masvingo

321247

433067

242715

340884

78.7%

75.6%

Mash West

411007

423407

299849

311902

73.7%

73.0%

Manicaland

405871

506891

284962

381981

75.4%

70.2%

Mat South

160059

196527

104578

141972

72.2%

65.3%

Harare

651540

694278

366467

381453

54.9%

56.2%

Bulawayo

186055

223334

99168

112108

50.2%

53.3%

Total

3349462

3874665

2361130

2823942

72.9%

70.5%

Table 2 above compares ZESN projected voting population and ZEC provisional statistics. When the data is viewed by gender, the general trend is than more women than men across most provinces have registered to vote. Using the population projection, the gender divide is more apparent in provinces such as Matabeleland North (women = 86.2%; men = 79.3%) and South (women = 72.2%; men = 65.3%) and Manicaland (women = 75.4%; men = 70.2%).

BVR Statistics by Age

The figure below shows an overall picture of ZEC BVR statistics of Zimbabweans aged 18 years and above registered to vote in the 2018 elections.

Results indicate that the majority of those registered to vote (70% or 3 612 039 out of the total 5 185 072) are aged between 20 years and 44 years. Only 13.9% are in the 45-60 age categories. Of the 70%, the highest population is 35-39 years (667 555, 13.20%), followed by the 20-24 years (666 467, 13.18%), then 25-24 years (652 726, 12.9%) and in fourth place the 30-34 age category (609942). The figure below shows the age distribution.

Figure 2: Age distribution of the population of registered voters

The graph above shows that the population registered voters is positively skewed, suggesting that the majority of registered voters, so far, fall into the younger generation category (20 to 44 years old). This could be attributed to the fact that Zimbabwe’s population is largely youthful. However, uptake of BVR has been considerably lower among the older generation and those aged 18 to 19.

Of concern to ZESN are the higher numbers of registered voters’ in Goromonzi South (65, 539), Epworth (63 961), Dangamvura – Chikanga (58 000) and Harare South (60 270) constituencies. This points out to the need for more polling stations in the respective constituencies and the need for a delimitation exercise post 2018 elections.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Although the statistics indicate a generally heightened interest in voter registration, with all provinces recording more than half of the projected population having registered, and more youth and women participation, there is still a need for concerted efforts to mobilise prospective voters to take part in the continuous registration exercise and to also turn out in the 2018 harmonised elections.

  • ZEC should provide statistics further disaggregated by ward, polling stations and special interest groups, for example People with Disabilities (PWDs)
  • The ZEC should continuously provide updated, disaggregated data on the voter registrants on its website, in a timely manner.
  • ZEC must consider establishing more registration centres in Harare and Bulawayo for the continuous registration exercise to increase the numbers of registered voters as the data indicates the lowest registration turnouts in these provinces.
  • There is need for the ZEC and CSOs to amplify its voter education efforts particularly in Harare and Bulawayo since these provinces have the lowest proportions of registered voters.
  • There is need to increase mobilisation efforts targeting groups that have, so far, recorded low voter registration. These include the newly turned 18 (18-19), men and those aged 50 and above.
  • Civil Society must complement ZECs efforts in the mobilisation of potential registrants in the continuous BVR exercises ongoing at ZEC district offices.
  • ZEC must increase polling stations in constituencies with higher numbers of registered voters’ to ensure that voters’ are not disenfranchised on Election Day.
  • The Government must avail adequate resources to the ZEC for the completion of other voter registration processes such as deduplication, inspection, final cleaning of the voters roll as well as its certification among other essential electoral processes.
  • The ZEC should ensure transparency of these processes by putting in place regulations and procedures for the de-duplication exercise and inspection of the voters roll.

Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)