Zimbabwe elections: 10 things you need to know
Group Political Editor
Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold harmonised elections on August 23. Since independence, the country has periodically held elections to elect a president, legislators and councillors.
The 2023 harmonised elections are the second elections to be held in the Second Republic or the New Dispensation.
As of (May 31 2023), 6 147 517 people had registered to vote, representing 45,67 percent of the total population. The number of registered voters has increased from last year’s 5 695 706 which was recorded when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) gazetted a new voters’ roll at the conclusion of the inaugural biometric voter registration (BVR).
Most voters will vote on the ordinary voting day. However, some persons, such as soldiers and police officers, who will not be able to vote on the ordinary polling day because they will be performing security duties on that day will be permitted to vote in advance of the ordinary election at special polling stations. Diplomats outside the country will be able to vote by post.
The Zimbabwe Government consists of an elected head of state – the president and a legislature. The presidential term lasts for five years, and is elected by majority, with a second round of elections taking place if no candidate receives a majority in the first round. The Parliament is bicameral, consisting of the National Assembly and Senate.
A record number of 23 presidential candidates took part in the last 2018 elections and of the 23 presidential candidates, 19 were men while four were women.
A huge number of presidential aspirants is also expected this year. Five candidates have so far come out. These are the incumbent President Mnangagwa of Zanu PF, Nelson Chamisa of CCC, Douglas Mwonzora of MDC-T, Robert Chapman of Democratic Union of Zimbabwe (DUZ) and Elisabeth Valerio of United Alliance Zimbabwe (UZA).
Under the current constitution, the President is elected using the two-round system (TRS). The TRS, also referred to as runoff voting is a method used to elect a single candidate. This is when the voters cast a single vote for their preferred candidate. It generally ensures a majority result, not a simple plurality result as under the first past the post. The two-round election system usually proceeds to a second round only if in the first round no candidate received a simple majority (more than 50 percent) of votes cast, or some other lower prescribed percentage. Only two candidates who would have received the most votes in the first round enter second round.
The National Assembly has 270 members with 210 members being elected in single-member constituencies while 60 are women elected by proportional representation in 10 six-seat constituencies based on the country’s provinces. Voters cast a single vote, which is counted for both forms of election. The 80 members of the Senate include 60 members elected from the 10 six-member constituencies (also based on the provinces) by proportional representation using party lists. The lists must have a woman at the top and alternate between men and women. The other 20 seats include two reserved for people with disabilities and 18 for traditional chiefs.
Any registered voter who is above 18 years and is a citizen of Zimbabwe is eligible to vote in the presidential election and the National Assembly election. Anyone who has ceased being a citizen or disqualified from being a registered voter is not eligible to vote in the Presidential or National Assembly elections.
In the Senate election, any citizen of Zimbabwe who is 18 years and is a registered voter in the constituency within the Senate boundary is eligible to vote.
In Local Authority Elections, one has to be a Zimbabwean citizen, 18 years and over and a resident in that particular ward. A person is considered to be resident in ward if: communal land within ward, he or she is entitled under Communal Land Act to reside in that communal land or any part thereof or any other land, he or she is ordinarily a resident therein or thereon or if any person satisfies the Registrar-General of Voters that, for reasons related to his or her place of origin or otherwise, it is appropriate for him or her to be registered as a voter in a ward in which he or she is not resident, the claimant may be registered as a voter in that ward. But no persons shall be resident as a voter in more than one ward at any one time.