On 14 December 2019, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission held local authority by-elections in Tongogara Rural District Council Ward 6. The by-election was held in accordance with section 121A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13). The Tongogara Ward 6 by-election was conducted following the death of the previous councillor, Edward Chitera, who was elected on a ZANU-PF ticket during the July 31, 2018 harmonised elections.
On polling day ZESN deployed static observers to cover the 2 polling stations and ward collation centre that were set up for the by-election. One roving team was also deployed to monitor environment outside the polling stations.
Overall the campaigns by the electoral contestants were low key, mostly constituting meetings in the ward and door to door campaigns. Of the two electoral contestants ZANU –PF campaigns were more prominent. ZANU-PF won this by-election with a wide margin of 380 votes. The turnout for this by-election of 65%.
ZESN supported the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s voter education efforts by deploying a team of four voter educators who directly interacted with 1162 people and distributed 2000 flyers and put up 50 posters during the five days that the team was in the Ward.
Women’s participation in the Ward appeared largely confined to participating in the by-election as voters. While one of the two electoral participants was female, five of the six party agents were males.
Polling day operations were conducted in keeping with set procedures. The conduct of the ZEC polling officials was professional and they facilitated the work of both observers and polling agents. The displaying of the voters’ roll outside polling stations by ZEC contributed to the very low numbers of voters who were redirected to the other polling station.
Based on its observations, ZESN proffers the following recommendations:
- ZEC should amplify publicity about continuous voters’ registration and the documents that are required for one to vote to possibly lower numbers of turned away people.
- In the interest of promoting the participation of marginalised groups in electoral processes, political parties should deploy more women and youths as party election agents and electoral contestants.
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Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)