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Derek Matyszak, Research and Advocacy Unit
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report on the polling
figures for the March
16th Referendum of 2013 on a new
constitution for Zimbabwe, the Election
Support Centre (a Harare based NGO) states that “the flurry
of votes has left more answers than questions (sic) with various
suggestions being made to explain the rise in the voter turnout”.
Both Zanu-PF and MDC-T sought to interpret increased numbers at
the poll, (relative to the 2008
elections and all previous polls) as a sign of support for their
parties’ policies and claimed extreme satisfaction with the
However, a closer
look at the numbers should cause some disquiet for those who hope
that the general election of 2013 will meet democratic standards.
The numbers which emerge from the Referendum show that, despite
the claimed surfeit of answers over questions, the question marks
pertaining to the state of the Voters Roll remain. In fact, the
need for urgent attention to this element of the electoral process
is underscored. Furthermore, comparing the numbers on the voters
roll with those of the Referendum and Census also somewhat undermines
any confidence one might place in data presented there.
This brief report
uses numbers from the recently released preliminary
report of the 2012 Census and compares these numbers with the
figures on the Voters Roll and the official results of the Referendum.
these figures, difficulties exist in obtaining accurate and essential
information, for current purposes, in respect of each of the three
core components – the Census, the Voters Roll and the Referendum.
The Census figures
are problematic due to the fact that only preliminary results for
the 2012 Census have been released, and these results do not reveal
any age demographic, the statistic of prime importance here, and
which would make it possible to estimate the eligible voter population
(i.e. adults or persons above the age of 18); the Voters Roll is
problematic as a source as the only official “electronic”
version of the roll available at the time of writing, one released
prior to the March 2008 election, does not include the over 300
000 voters added to the roll after its release; and the official
results for the Referendum are problematic as they have only been
broken down to constituency level, rather than polling station level,
as is required for proper psephological analysis.
have been approached in the following way.
The gap in the
2012 Census data pertaining to age demographics has been filled
by looking at other reports issued by Zimstat, the body under whose
auspices the Censi are conducted. As is the convention with censi,
the age bands given in the 2002 Census and other reports do not
divide at a point which separates adults from minors, there being
an overlap in the band of those aged 15 - 19. However, applying
an accepted demographological formula, a study of the 2002 Census
showed an adult population of 6 070 537, or approximately 52% of
the population. The 2012 Census put the inter-censal growth rate
at a low 1.1%, based solely on fertility and mortality rates, ignoring
any migration from the country. Thus, a 2011 report produced in
collaboration with Zimstat, the body responsible for the country’s
censi, stated the adult population of Zimbabwe to be slightly reduced
from that of the 2002 Census at 5,983,253, probably on account of
migration. A second report, also by Zimstat, issued in the same
month, and using a population of 11,930,038, estimated by extrapolation,
suggests the adult population to be slightly higher at 6,151,127
people or 51.56% of the total population.
On the basis
of the foregoing, it seems reasonable to assume an adult population
of no more than 52% of the current population of 12,973,808; that
is, 6,746 380 people. If, however, the adult population is taken
to be the roughly six million claimed by the 2011 reports, the adult
population constitutes 46.25% of the total. If the adult population
is in fact a lower percentage than 52%, as is likely, the findings
here are exacerbated, if higher mitigated. In what follows, it should
be borne in mind that it is not necessary to be on the voters’
roll in order to vote in a referendum. It is merely necessary to
prove an entitlement to be registered as a voter. Censi statistics
are thus of prime importance, rather than voter registration statistics,
when considering the Referendum. The addition of 300,000 plus voters
to the roll after the release of a digital version of the 2008 roll
has been catered for by utilising figures from an unofficially obtained,
but almost assuredly accurate, version of the roll as at October,
2010. The addition of voters to the roll after this date (as is
presumably the case) would exacerbate the findings here. Removal
of persons from the roll (see below) only apparently took place
to any significant extent after the 2012 Census. The findings when
taking these removals into account are also given here.
Electoral Commission has been approached with a written request
for detailed polling information pertaining to the Referendum. This
request has not elicited any response. As a result this report confines
itself to such conclusions as may be made by examining the data
at constituency level.
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