'Voter turnout in primaries must worry MDC'

HARARE - On a school gate in the Harare West council elections, a hand-written note details the results of MDC municipal primary elections. The winner, by far, was abstention.

Barely a third of the registered voters in this working class neighbourhood bothered to cast a ballot at the school, which doubled up as a polling station.

The dismal turnout in the primary elections could spell trouble for MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, who boasts that he is confident of winning the general elections.

MDC spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo claimed the low turnout was caused by Zanu PF intimidation tactics.

“The low turnout is as a result of intimidation, we heard such statement from deputy Finance minister (Terrence Mukupe) who said the army will not allow MDC president Nelson  Chamisa to lead this country  such statements have negative  effects in rural areas.

“Obviously the numbers will increase during the harmonised elections but Zanu PF has started to intimidate people across the country. Zanu PF preaches peace and practises violence,” Khumalo said.

Analysts said the MDC must be wary of low voter turnout which characterised their primaries. 

“It’s foolhardy to ignore the numbers. The numbers are indicative of a party with more sympathisers than registered members unlike Zanu PF that has more registered members than sympathisers.

“A party is guaranteed of votes and the numbers during voting from its registered members than sympathisers whose allegiance is porous and shifts from time to time,” political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said.

“You can’t bank on sympathisers and a party’s campaign is faulty if it generates millions at rallies and a few hundred registered members participate in primaries. 

“This lends credibility to Zanu PF’s ‘dandemutande’ strategy as it recorded big numbers at its primaries. Also since this election is going to be rigged, those poor numbers can make MDC competitor argue with a degree of credibility that the poll was not rigged and MDC had poor showing even based on its primaries.

“Current divisions in MDC Alliance also don’t help. Poor membership drive had been MDC’s undoing since 2013 when its current president was doing ‘scientific organising’ that had very little membership drive. MDC need to urgently do their own variation of dandemutande membership recruitment drive. Rallies yes, but also membership drive to get assured of committed voters,” he added.

Another political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa said the opposition party must strengthen its structures so that they can mobilise and recruit more supporters ahead of the 2018 elections.

“I think this year, the turnout for MDC was better because previously they used to allow only those in party structures to vote. However, MDC needs to strengthen its structures.

“There is need for a rebirth to its systems and structures through rigorous training of leaders on issues such as voter mobilisation.

“For instance, this year the party allows all card-carrying members to vote but one can find neighbours to an aspiring candidate not even aware that someone within their street is campaigning for a political office.”

Hamauswa said the MDC must investigate what caused the low turnout.

“The low turnout is a result of many factors which require investigations especially by the MDC-T party itself. Some are saying they thought only those in structures will vote as has been the tradition.

“Therefore, the current figures might not lead to concrete conclusions regarding how the party will perform in the coming elections.

“Inferences can, however, be made with regard to cases where the number of total voters was lower than the expected number of those in structures.

“Lastly, voters are always not willing and unable to buy membership cards thereby becoming ineligible to vote.  Some they still fear being victimised for being on the list of MDC members. So the factors are multiple,” Hamauswa added.

Comments (11)

Let the truth be told. The party in MDC T has a novice for a leader, and Zimbabweans have seen through the inexprienced blue-train promises and villages turned into cities overnight. He has too many detractors in his ranks and no advisers. The Khupe leg of MDC-T is a factor. Like the amoeba MDC-T is it continues to divide. Those who thought the MDC- Alliance was a force to topple the Zimbabwe African Union National- Front have misplaced their hopes. MDC-T is a house divided and falling from inside. The goodwill in the New Dispensation we have seen from the World have endorsed the New Government MDC-T factions cannot reap where there did not saw.

Mufaro Sibanda - 28 May 2018

uyo anonzi tabita anofunga neyi , anoshandisa chii pakufunga ? zanupf ya mnangagwa here ndiyo yangati iriku intimidator vanhu venyu ? heya nhasi zvaipa n'anga yabata mai , ndimika maiti zanu haina vanhu maona ma results e maprimary elections edu chionai katsvati kenyu . MDC could only win against zanupf yava mugabe not the current zanupf. ITS only a fool who ignore such low numbers. your party lacks depth, no ideology . muchahwina pa social media ,pa zimeye chete . GARWE RAUYA.

JEHU - 28 May 2018

low turnout at primaries is an indicator of how unintrested people are about mps & councillors! takamirira papresident apo!

SaManyika Chaiye - 28 May 2018

To blame Zanu Pf statements for your unenergised following??

Observer - 28 May 2018

Muchafurirana ipapa. In opposition circles primary haina basa maningi ever since. Even if you put a baboon there they will vote for Mbama yavo chete. Just wait for elections muchavaona.

Moyo - 28 May 2018

I am MDC T to the bone but wouldn't bother myself with primaries. On the other hand, I can't wait for the national elections so I can put my president muoffice.

Mblezh - 28 May 2018

Some of of will vote only during national elections, for fear of victimisation that we belong to MDC. So i would not equate the primaries to what will characterise the national elections.

Collin - 28 May 2018

i was in my rural home , i was told people were told that voting during zanu primary elections was a must for all villagers as that will be a passport to get food.It came to my knowledge that people were also not told what they were voting for.In that ward 150 people cast their votes in zanu pf primaries but of that figure 2/3 are MDC supporting people .Lets wait and see

matebele warrior - 29 May 2018

Primary elections should not be used as a yardstick to measure how people will vote in the presidential elections.Most opposition voters usually vote for whoever wins in the primary elections without bothering to know who the candidate is,using the primary elections as a barometer for the presidential elections is showing ignorance of the fact that MDC voters vote for whoever is representing the party.I for one am not bothered by primary elections though i will still vote for the councilor and MP.

Luke Munya Mabika - 29 May 2018

Primary elections should not be used as a yardstick to measure how people will vote in the presidential elections.Most opposition voters usually vote for whoever wins in the primary elections without bothering to know who the candidate is,using the primary elections as a barometer for the presidential elections is showing ignorance of the fact that MDC voters vote for whoever is representing the party.I for one am not bothered by primary elections though i will still vote for the councilor and MP.

Luke Munya Mabika - 29 May 2018

Every tricks that can be used to avoid the reality cannot survive the truth, because the truth shall prevail fore-ever and the tricks shall be exposed and cease. Zanu Pf test the truth in 2008 that makes degreed and professors to go back to school and change the normal additional calculation for a period of time. So the truth is in the heart of the people not what you want them to do. If the ballot paper, well monitored from being tempered with up to the election date, and any other factors that can make the hearts of the people unstable, the truth will show itself. People can only analysing things physically and at times wrongly. But we need to consider the spiritual side which is the greatest for it creates the physical. So GOD has the final thought, seeing and way. ( Isaiah 55:8-10). So we glorify the name of our LORD and saviour JESUS CHRIST in every situations for he has good plan for our future and hope (Jeremiah 29:110). May God bless you all in Jesus Christ name.

In Love with all - 29 May 2018

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