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Zimbabwe: Voters' Roll Follies

AfricaFocus Bulletin
July 23, 2013 (130723)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"The analysis also revealed a number of discrepancies between census data and registered voters across all age groups. For instance there are approximately 831,482 people in the age group 40-49 years. However it is worrying that the voters' roll reflects 1,250,989 registered voters in this age group. Of particular concern is the age group 80 years or more which according to census data has an estimated population of 155,653, while the registered voters of the same group are 343,187, some of whom are as old as 114 years old." - Zimbabwe Election Support Network (NESN), July 12, 2013

This AfricaFocus Bulletin, not sent out by e-mail but available on the web at contains two parallel civil society reports, from the Research and Advocacy Unit and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, with analyses of the Zimbabwe Voters' Roll being used for the July 31 election. Also included is a statement by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition following the first round of "special voting" by Zimbabwe security forces.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin, sent out by e-mail and available on the web at, contains excerpts from testimony before the U.S. Congress by Dewa Mavhinga of Human Rights Watch on the status of human rights and security reform in Zimbabwe in the period preceding the election.

Both of today's Bulletins focus on the current situation preceding elections, documenting the absence of the minimum conditions for a fair election. For an analysis that probes the background to this situation over the previous four years, read the review by Tim Scarnecchia of the new book from Solidarity Peace Trust, The Hard Road To Reform: The Politics Of Zimbabwe's Global Political Agreement, edited by Brain Raftopolous. / direct URL:

The Solidarity Peace Trust book is available on Kindle at The introduction and much of the first chapter can be read as a preview on Amazon.

Recent news of interest includes:

  • "Zanu-PF 'diamond whistleblower' Chindori-Chininga dies in car crash," Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa, June 21, 2013
    direct URL:
  • "Zuma sacrifices top aide in yet another Zimbabwe capitulation," Simon Allison, Daily Maverick, July 22, 2013
    direct URL:

For current news see, among many other sources, and The first has news and commentary from a wide range of opposition sources, while the second includes among its sources the ZANU-PF linked Herald newspaper.

Added July 25, 2013
For even more sources see

Added July 28, 2013
For updates on the election, including maps and tables, visit

Added July 29, 2013
For commentary on the independent role of the trade unions in Zimbabwe, see

Added July 31, 2013
Follow twitter hashtag #zimelections

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Zimbabwe, visit

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

An Audit of Zimbabwe's 2013 Voters' Roll
July 2013

[This is the second report on the June 2013 Voters' Roll, following on a brief preliminary report -- RAU (2013), Key Statistics from the June 2013 Voters' Roll. 5 July 2013, Harare: Research & Advocacy Unit.]

Executive Summary

This is the second report on an audit of the June 2013 Voters' Roll. It expands on the previous report, provides a more detailed analysis of the Roll, and corrects a number of minor errors

A number of key findings merged from the audit:

1. That there are nearly 2 000 000 potential voters aged under 30 who are unregistered.

Very few adults aged under 30 are registered. This is most marked in the 18 -19 age band, where only 8.87% are registered. In numerical terms, this means that a total of 1,920,424 people under the age of 30 ought to be registered as voters but are not. [This assumes that the vast majority of the adult population comprises citizens and thus entitled to register as voters.] This is almost 29% of the total adult population of 6,647,779. Since there are unregistered people in the other age bands, the total percentage of the entire adult population who ought to be registered as voters but are not, is considerably higher than 29%.

2. That there are well over 1,000,000 people on the roll who are either deceased or departed.

If one removes the 1,920,424 unregistered potential voters from the calculation, the registration rate rises to an impossible 129% of people aged 30 and over. If an 85% registration rate is assumed, then over registration rate rises to 52% for these age bands, representing some 1,732,527 names which are on the roll but ought not to be. In other words, rather than the some 5,874,115 entries on the roll there should not be more than 4 141 588.

3. That 63 constituencies have more registered voters than inhabitants.

This was covered in the Preliminary report and the full details of those Constituencies with more voters than inhabitants according to the 2012 Census is given in Appendix 2 of this report.

4. That 41 Constituencies deviate from the average number of voters per constituency by more than the permitted 20%.

This was also reported in the preliminary report, but here is expanded. The report points out a number of problems:

  • Whilst delimitation has been fixed according to the 2008 specifications, there are three local government authorities [RDCs] that have been created from existing wards for which redelimitation is necessary, but not constitutionally possible;
  • One Ward in one of these new RDC's has only eight voters according to Voters' Roll;
  • There appears to be no political bias in the distribution of the over and under-registered Constituencies, but it is also clear that there is discrimination against urban constituencies. Mbare, for example, has three times more registered voters than Chipinge East, which should mean that Mbare should have one and a half seats to Chipinge East's half seat.

5. The registration rate (as opposed to number registered) of women is significantly less than that of men, particularly in the metropolitan provinces.

One must keep in mind that the 52:48 ratio on both the census and the voters' roll is the ratio of females to males as per the 2012 Census and the ratio of women to men on the roll. It does not reflect the comparative registration rates. According to the June 2013 Voters' Roll, there is a higher registration rate of women than that of men in the rural provinces, suggesting that the lower registration rate of women overall is on account of severe underregistration of women in the metropolitan provinces. For example, in Harare Province the registration rate of women is only 63%, against 83% for men. By contrast, in Mashonaland Central the rate is 92% for women and 90% for men.

Unevenness also emerges when individual constituencies are examined, and when considering the registration rate of each gender in particular age bands. For example Beitbridge East (a constituency selected merely because it appears first alphabetically) not only shows considerable bias in registration in favour of women, and much higher than the 54:46 ratio of the voters roll as a whole, but also reveals a marked (and sudden) increase in favour of women in the number of people registered as voters in the over 50 age bands.

6. There is a marked registration bias in favour of rural constituencies.

The registration rate differs considerably between rural and urban areas. Some constituencies comprise both urban and rural wards and were categorized as âmixedâ constituencies. According to the June 2013 Voters' Roll, there are 3 891 425 registered voters in rural constituencies as opposed to 1 424 047 in urban constituencies and 558 507 in mixed constituencies. This gives a registration rate of 91.9% for rural constituencies, 78.3% for urban constituencies, and 80.7% for âmixedâ constituencies.

The registration rate in purely rural constituencies, from which ZANU PF is regarded as drawing the bulk of its support, is thus considerably higher (94%) than that in purely urban constituencies (74%) from which the MDC formations as regarded as drawing most of their support, that is, about 20% more. This is particularly so in the over 65+ age bands.

7. Miscellaneous Oddities

Several other oddities, which may be symptomatic of a larger problem, are worth noting:

  • There are numerous reports from people indicating that their names appear on the voters roll even though they have never registered to vote.
  • The suffixes of the national registration numbers of 44,000 voters have been altered on the roll. These voters thus may encounter difficulties with over-bureaucratic officials who could insist on an exact match with ID discs.
  • Some married women have noted that, without their consent, their surnames have been changed on the roll to the surname of their husbands. This may also cause problems when presenting IDs at the polling stations.

Zimbabwe: Serious Shortcomings On the Voters' Roll - Missing Urban Voters and Young Voters

By Zimbabwe Election Support Network, 12 July 2013

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has noted serious irregularities in the Voters' Roll purchased by the organisation from the Office of Registrar General on 19 June, 2013. Through its preliminary analysis, ZESN has noted that the biggest irregularity in the Roll is the under registration of voters especially in the urban wards. For instance ZESN has found that there are about 750 000 missing urban voters and at least 400 000 missing young voters from the voters' roll.

ZESN conducted a demographic analysis of the Voters' Roll on all 5,890,169 names on the voters' roll from all 1,964 wards and 210 constituencies compared to the official 2012 Census data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. The analysis by ZESN shows the under registration of eligible voters in urban wards with approximately 750,000 missing urban voters and under registration of youth voters in urban and rural wards with approximately 400,000 missing young voters. These youth voters are only 5% of registered voters compared to 20 % in the Zambian election held in 2011.

The analysis also revealed a number of discrepancies between census data and registered voters across all age groups. For instance there are approximately 831,482 people in the age group 40-49 years. However it is worrying that the voters' roll reflects 1,250,989 registered voters in this age group. Of particular concern is the age group 80 years or more which according to census data has an estimated population of 155,653, while the registered voters of the same group are 343,187, some of whom are as old as 114 years old. This over registration of elderly voters in urban and rural wards demonstrates that approximately 250,000 names of individuals who are likely to be deceased, whose names have not been removed from the voters' roll.

The provision of electronic copies of the Voters' Roll under the Amended Electoral Act is a commendable move as it provides greater transparency to the process. While periodic updates were provided by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) during the mobile voter registration exercise from 29 April to 19 May 2013, there have not been similar updates from the mobile voter registration efforts for the period 10 June to10 July 2013. Thus, it is not possible to assess the final state of voter registration. The official registration figures showed a total 5,890,169 registered voters, as at 19 June 2013. Using official census figures in Table 1 above, it is possible to estimate 88.55 % of eligible Zimbabweans are registered. However, the true registration rate is like lower because clearly names of deceased persons remain on the roll.

ZESN notes with concern that as the current voters' roll stands, urban and youth voters have not been given an equal opportunity to participate in the elections and if this issue is not addressed it might seriously undermine the credibility of the whole electoral process. ZESN found a significant disparity between registration rates in urban and rural wards with registration in urban wards at 67.94% and those in rural wards at 99.97%. For urban voter registration rates to be comparable with rural registration rates another 750,000 urban voters must still be registered.

This situation would only have been exacerbated by the just ended mobile voter registration period because of the distribution of registration centres, with the majority located in rural areas which reinforces the inequitable access to voter registration already reflected on the voters' roll.

ZESN's analysis, which is based on the 2012 Census shows that about 18.24 % of eligible voters are between 18 and 22 (those who became eligible since the 2008 elections) but just 2,39 % of registered voters are in this age group - one ninth of the desired number. Similarly, estimated eligible voters between 23 and 29 are 22, 97% according to the 2012 Census, but registered voters in this age group are just 11, 7% or half the desired number. At the same time, census data shows that 5.5 % - of estimated eligible voters are between the ages of 70 and 80 while 5.82% of registered voters are 80 years or older.

The Network notes with concern that registration of young people in Zimbabwe is not only well below 2012 Census estimates it is significantly lower than registration rates in other African countries for recent elections. Registration of young voters (under 25) is more than 10% less in Zimbabwe than comparable countries such as South Africa (16.5%), Kenya (16.86%) and Zambia (20,61%). It is our view that for registration rates for youth voters to approximate the 2012 Census another 400,000 voters aged between 18 and 29 need to be registered.

Finally, ZESN is also very concerned about the distribution of polling stations released on 10 July as compared to the official registration figures from 19 June. Twenty percent (75 of 394) of urban wards have more than 1,000 voters per polling. Of particular note, Epworth Local Board Ward 7 has 7,920 registered voters, but only one polling station. Unlike the Constitutional Referendum voters will be required to vote in the ward in which they are registered.

ZESN therefore urges the ZEC to consider the extension of the mobile voter registration exercise to ensure the missing urban voters and young voter have an opportunity to exercise their right register to vote. This is in tandem with Section 6(3) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which provides for at least thirty days of special and intensive voter registration and voters' roll inspection. In addition we call for the removal of about 250 000 people who are likely to be deceased from the voter's roll.

We reiterate our call for uploading the electronic copies of the final Voters Roll with updates of voters registered during the mobile registration from 10 June to 09 July 2013 on the ZEC website to enable citizens to continue to inspect and check their names.

ZESN remains committed to promoting efforts for a free and fair election where each eligible voter has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

CiZC Statement on the Special Voting Exercise & ZEC's Readiness to Deliver a free and Fair election on July 31

Issued by: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Contact Persons:

  1. Thabani Nyoni, Spokesperson, Mobile: +263 772 779 880 /+263 712 642 932, Email:
  2. MacDonald Lewanika, Director, Mobile: +263 772 913 418, Email:; Email:; Website:

18 July 2013

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) would like to add its voice to the growing crescendo of electoral stakeholders expressing grave concerns and disapproval of the shambolic, tragic and shameful way in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) conducted the just ended Special Voting Exercise on 14, 15 and 16 July 2013.

The shambolic and opaque manner in which the Special Voting was conducted has shown beyond refutation that the Elections Management body is yet to fully prepare to conduct peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe.

ZEC's performance has begged the question- if they cannot be faithful over little (80 000 special voters) how can they be faithful over much (a Harmonized Election with an excess of over 6 million eligible voters)? As part of the electoral process, the bungling that was witnessed during the special voting process has got serious ramifications on the integrity of ZEC as the administering body and on the election itself.

The noted discrepancies and apparent ill preparedness noticed during the special voting process calls for serious and honest reflections by ZEC and the people of Zimbabwe on the veracity of claims made by ZEC they are ready to conduct elections. Conditions in the country already show that the nation is being marshaled to an election without choice and under conditions that are not conducive to the conduct of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections.

Of serious concern, amongst other issues, to the Coalition were the following observations:

  • the inordinate delays in the provision of essential voting materials such as ballot papers, ink and ballot boxes at most voting centers during the period earmarked for special voting, which led to 'special voters' being subjected to long waits, fatigue, and long queues.
  • Allegations, on good authority, that some security forces were made to write down their ballot paper serial numbers for their senior's prying eyes, infringing on the sacrosanct principle of free choice and secrecy of the vote as well as insulation and security of the voter.
  • The disenfranchisement of some members of the Police, the army and other special voters, whose authorizations were either misplaced or not found amidst the ZEC administered chaos.
  • Partiality by ZEC officials in their handling and addressing of political actors competing in this election, as exemplified by sentiments by ZEC Vice Chairperson Kazembe, who put the blame of the chaos, confusion and bungling on the MDCs, instead of owning up and apologizing. Leaving many wondering whether she is an Independent Commissioner or a Political party Commissar. Even more unacceptable is the fact that the Electoral Commission did not maturely pick themselves up, apologize to the nation and professionally dust their act.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, among other Civil Society groups, at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Maputo on June 15 warned that there was need for more time and better preparation for the 2013 harmonized elections. Since the proclamation of the Election day, there has been ample evidence that ZEC and the country are clearly not ready to stage a peaceful, free, fair and credible election. Amongst the telling signs have been the following, which are not conclusive:

  • The partisan nature that state broadcaster and newspapers continue to carry out their work with no sanctions and action by ZEC as it is constitutionally mandated to do.
  • The fact that ZEC, save for the deceit of publicly calling for written applications, also employed delaying tactics to accrediting civil society organizations for voter education and observation until the mobile voter registration process lapsed on July 9, making the issue of our exclusion a fait accompli.
  • The exclusionary nature of the voter registration exercise which left thousands of Zimbabweans who were willing to register stranded without recourse after ZEC refused to extend the registration period in spite of the fact that the constitution allows it to, but more importantly to uphold the principle of inclusion and allowing everyone who wants to participate to do so. The continued opaqueness around the availability and sourcing of funds to run the election.
  • The disputes around the timing and legal framework and prerequisites for the elections.
  • The clear and accurate assessment by the facilitator and SADC on the state of readiness of Zimbabwe to conduct elections and the minimum reforms that are required to do so with some credibility.
  • The consistent calls for reforms and a salubrious environment by CSO's.

The Zimbabwe Elections Commission is carrying the expectations and hopes of millions of Zimbabweans, some of whom are beginning to think that ZEC's shambolic display may be for deceitful reasons, which remain mysterious and are not for the good of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The Coalition cannot avoid concluding that the ZEC, despite its deliberate assertions to the contrary, is not ready to conduct a credible election, and circumstances have set it up for a calamitous and torrid time as the obvious result of the above stated shortcomings have began to rob the electoral process of its credibility risking another sham election on July 31.

The Coalition has observed that the above is at variance and in contravention of both the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the aspirations and expectations of Zimbabwean as espoused in the Feya Feya Principles drafted and adopted by over 83 organisations in Bulawayo on June 27 2013 (

A judgment of the electoral processes so far, measured against the the Feya Feya Campaign's principals, makes the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition pronounce, with a tortured heart, that part of the tenets have been flagrantly violated, some possibly beyond redress.

The Coalition specifically refers to Feya Feya Principle 1 demanding ZEC neutrality, Feya Feya Principle 6 that ZEC should generally act with honesty and integrity, Feya Feya Principle 5 that voting should be done in secrecy, as well as Feya Feya Principle 10 that all eligible Zimbabweans must be allowed to vote.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition continues to insist on Feya Feya Principle 2 for fair media coverage of candidates and contesting parties by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimpapers, Feya Feya Principles 7 that demands security sector neutrality and Feya Feya Principle 11 that regional actors and solidarity partners should not encourage Zimbabwe to compromise on international standards and best practices on democratic elections.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition commits to the attention of the SADC and African Union (AU) peoples as represented by the two blocs' Observer Missions, the unfolding drama in Zimbabwe and asks for their urgent action as guarantors to encourage immediate remedial action without foreclosing the possibility of postponing the July 31 election as a solution. Based on current form, July 31 is clearly a disaster waiting to happen, denting the credibility of Zimbabwe, SADC, the African Union and the principle of African Solutions to African problems.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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