On 7 September 2019, The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) conducted two National Assembly by-elections Glen View South and Mangwe and one Local Authority By-election in Masvingo Rural District Council (Ward 1).
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network deployed comprehensively to the Glen View South by-election, while observers were deployed to all ward collation centres in Mangwe. In Ward 1 of Masvingo RDC observers were deployed to cover three polling stations and the ward collation centre. Prior to the Election Day, ZESN deployed Long Term Observers (LTOs) to track electoral and political developments that occurred during the campaign season for the Glen View South, Mangwe and Masvingo RDC (Ward 1).
To complement ZEC efforts in raising awareness on electoral rights ahead of the by-elections, ZESN deployed two teams of voter educators to Mangwe and Glen View National Assembly by-elections. ZESN member organisations seconded trained individuals who constituted the voter education teams.
ZEC Provincial and District offices provide voter registration facilities for those who may wish to register throughout the electoral cycle. ZEC is also engaged in a process of cleaning the voter register using information from the registrar general’s offices. The voters’ registration figures for the Constituencies and Ward where the by-elections were conducted has not changed significantly.
As with previous by-elections ZANU-PF and MDC-Alliance had the most visible campaigns comprising rallies and meetings which were addressed by the two parties’ senior leadership. All electoral contestants’ electoral campaigns were not impeded by any authorities. No reports of intimidation and harassment of potential voters were received. The only electoral malpractice that was reported during the by-elections largely relate to alleged incidents of vote buying. Participation of women in elections as contestants remains low. Two (2) of the nine (9) electoral contestants in both Mangwe and Glen View South were women while Masvingo RDC Ward 1 was only contested by men.
On Election Day, ZESN observer reports indicated that the set up and opening of polling stations as well as the polling, counting and results tabulation process, were conducted smoothly and in keeping with appropriate electoral regulations.
Following the observations highlighted in the report ZESN proffers the following recommendations.
- ZESN implores the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to investigate reports of vote buying that were reported in the Glen View South by-election, as well as in previous by-elections that were held post 2018 harmonized elections.
- The ZEC should adopt the displaying of voters’ rolls outside polling stations in future elections to enable easy identification of voters’ correct polling stations. Currently, this practice is still at the pilot phase.
- ZESN urges political parties to create structures, mechanisms and policies that facilitate the nomination of a more diverse range of candidates during the internal party primaries. This will make the process more inclusive.
- Political parties should invest in the recruitment, training and deployment of their party agents to allow parties to comment authoritatively on Election Day processes.
- Political parties should improve the quality of their campaign efforts to support improvement in the turnout of voters during the by-elections.
- Tactile braille templates should be developed to facilitate enjoyment of secrecy of the vote by persons with visual impairment.
- ZEC should conduct periodic voter registration blitz and avail voter registration centers at the sub district level to facilitate registration by persons that were unable to register during previous voter registration blitz.
- ZEC should consider broadening the period that other players are allowed to conduct voter education, this may help increase the reach of voter education efforts.
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)