ZIMBABWEANS do not cast votes along political party lines nor do their preferred candidates mirror their aspirations, a report by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has said.
This comes after Zimbabwe held by-elections on February 3 this year to fill National Assembly and local authority vacancies following recalls by self-imposed interim Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.
The by-elections were conducted in Zvimba East, Goromonzi South, Chegutu West, Seke, Pelandaba-Tshabalala and Mkoba North where Zanu-PF begged all the six constituencies and ultimately attained a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
In its by-election report, Zesn said the elections exposed Zimbabweans’ preference for individualised politics.
“The just-ended by-elections revealed the personification of allegiance to individuals by the electorate,” the report read.
“The electorate in most of the six (6) constituencies uncovered that people do not cast votes along political party lines per se, neither do their preferences reflect on the calibre of the contesting candidate.”
Main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa stepped down from being the CCC leader last month before the by-elections were held, arguing that Zanu-PF had infiltrated the party after Tshabangu purged several CCC legislators from Parliament.
Chamisa has already started mobilising for a new political movement.
“This accounts for the reason why, when former CCC candidates opted to contest as independents, they lost seats they once won in the August harmonised elections and for those who filed as CCC- Tshabangu, they too lost the by-elections.
“In August 2023 harmonised elections, the Chegutu West CCC candidate polled 13 942 but when he decided to stand as an Independent, he got 2 626 votes. Seke constituency’s August winner, Williard Madzimbamuto garnered 13 277 but as an Independent, he got 2 401.
“A similar trend happened for the Zvimba East February 3 by-election Independent candidate who got 1 993, which is way below the August winning mark of 15 435.”
Meanwhile, Zesn has implored Parliament to amend the recall clause in the Constitution.
“Zesn reiterates its call that Parliament develops legislation, especially to amend section 129(k) of the Constitution, to prevent recalls from being carried out arbitrarily. Recalls put a burden on the national budget and reduce the value of the vote.”
The election watchdog said there was a need for safety and security of observers when discharging their duties to ensure that they do so without fear of reprisal to instil public confidence in the electoral process and its credibility.
“It is imperative to establish clear mechanisms for the protection of observers, including legal frameworks that explicitly prohibit any form of harassment or reprisal against them.
“Political parties should promote a culture of non-violence and tolerance in order to ensure that citizens participate freely in electoral processes.”