'Zim must introduce compulsory voting'

HARARE - A youth pressure group has called on Parliament to amend the Electoral Act to introduce compulsory voting ahead of the 2018 elections.

According to Youth Advocacy for Voter Enlightenment and Progressive Orientation (Yavepo), the number of people who voted in 2013 elections was so low it brings the legitimacy of the current government into question.

President Robert Mugabe easily won re-election in Zimbabwe’s 2013 presidential election but a low voter turnout dashed his hopes of a massive popular mandate, officials and analysts have said.

“Less than 3,5 million people voted in the last election yet over 6,5 million were eligible to do so,” said Yavepo director and former student leader Zachariah Mushawatu.

“Democracy is a principle that is based on getting consent from the majority to rule.

“When almost half of the people eligible to vote do not engage in the process of giving consent to those that have offered themselves up for election, it is very difficult to call those who are selected in such a process legitimate.

“Compulsory voting should be introduced to ensure the largest number of citizens’ possible vote to avoid legitimacy issues,” he said.

Mushawatu said that voting was such an important process that it should not be viewed as an optional right but a compulsory duty.

“Voting is a civic duty much like paying taxes. The problem is that in this country it is currently viewed as a right meaning someone can choose not to exercise it.”

At least 22 countries worldwide, especially in Europe, have introduced legislation for compulsory voting while only 11 have implanted it.

Where it has been implemented, after each election, all apparent non-voters are sent a letter demanding that they pay a penalty or provide a valid and sufficient reason for failing to vote.

Valid reasons include being involved in an accident or being diverted on the way to the polling station by public duty, for example to save a person’s life.

They do not include disliking or not knowing enough about the available choice of candidates.

Comments (4)

I don't know about compulsory voting but I really think parliament should consider a law in which if say 50% of the eligible voters do not vote then the results are void. Bcoz seriously speaking voter apathy is a democratic expression which should be taken seriously. For example if people know that there will may not be respected or will be subverted, they will not vote and if then only 200 people vote for their relative, it cannot be called the people 's will.

Ziggy Zigawo - 2 March 2017

Elections in Zim are a waste of time and resources because Zanu PF rigs. Its rather too obvious that they will win in 2018. In 2013 we were fooled by Baba Jukwa, the elections were free but not fair. Zimbambweans should be putting measures to STOP ZEC patronilisation by the ruling elite.

VhaVenda - 3 March 2017

Those who choose not to vote usually belong to opposition parties and they have since resigned from voting for a simple reason that their votes do not count because the elections are always rigged before people even register.These groups should first put stops to the rigging of elections by zanu pf thugs first

Janana wa Bikaz - 3 March 2017

Why do we waste our time. Zanu will never allow themselves to be voted out of power. They will do everything to avoid an even voting field so the ystay in power. Zimbabweans seem content with waiting for these factions to fight it out and hope the party is weakened by infighting so they can then come and take over or control the winning faction. Not going to happen. Infact what will happen is the same old patronage will rise up again. The losing faction will fold their tails and supplicate to the winning faction and together they will be stronger in undermining our democracy. The time is now! We need demonstrations, we need exposes in the media and social forums to prove to them and to each other that we are tired of their misrule and they are not fit for office. We are not waiting for Mugabe to die so we see if there is a hiccup in the corridors or power for us to then impose our will. This is our country, let us not accept mafufu semakonzo mhani! Zimbabwe is a republic. It belongs to the people, not Zanu. Claim back your rights, your institutions, your voices, your entitlements. Don't wait for someone to take action, start the action and be heard, be seen, be acknowledged that you are a human being, a citizen, not a doll to be kicked around as Zanu sees fit.

KWIDZ - 22 March 2017

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