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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Key statistics from the June 2013 voters’ roll
    Research and Advocacy Unit
    July 05, 2013

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    The Research and Advocacy Unit, RAU, is in the process of preparing a report on the state of the Voters’ Roll as it was as of 1st June, 2013. However, with elections pending, the exigencies of the situation demand that the key statistics, on which the report will be based, are released without delay. These statistics are of importance to all those concerned to ensure that the elections are conducted freely and fairly and with regard to accepted democratic standards. The statistics appear in the Tables set out below, and, although appearing with little accompanying comment, in most instances speak for themselves.


    RAU’s analysis of the Voters’ Roll has been facilitated by the release of the preliminary results of the 2012 census. However, these results do not disclose the statistic of prime importance here, the number of adults in Zimbabwe as indicated by ages of 18 years or more. The analysis has thus proceeded on the basis of the percentages of the population in each age band supplied by Zimstat (the body which conducts the census) and used by Zimstat to calculate data in a 2012 survey on Health and Demographics in Zimbabwe.2 Zimstat is of the view that these percentages have not changed significantly in the few years since that survey, a view supported by the fact that the census shows that Zimbabwe has a low growth rate of 1.1%.3 The age band percentages appear in Appendix 1 and the full age breakdown of the Voters’ Roll is given in Appendix 2.

    The number of adults (and thus potentially eligible voters) in the 15 – 19 age band has been determined by calculating two-fifths of the total. It is believed that the number thus arrived at is sufficiently accurate for present purposes.

    Figure 1 shows the number of adults in each age band according to the census, compared with the number of people in those age bands registered as voters. The final column shows the percentage of the adult population registered as voters.

    In an ideal situation, all those who ought to be registered as voters are, and those who ought not to be, such as those deceased, are not. Although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission took special steps to facilitate registration before the production of the June roll analysed here, and although nearly 300 000 deceased people were reported to have been removed from the roll in the months immediately preceding its compilation, Table 1 shows a large disjuncture between the ideal and the actual.

    Very few adults aged less than 30 years are registered. This is most marked in the 18-19 age band, where only 8% 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 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%.

    The “under-registration” in these other age bands is concealed by “over-registration” in all of the age bands from 30 years and above. If the under-registration in these bands were to be taken into account, as it ought to be, the percentages of over-registration shown in Table 1 would increase. It should also be noted that the over-registration figures assume a 100% registration rate, which is improbable. The percentages of over-registration will increase in direct proportion to the extent that the registration rate is less than 100%.

    Even without considering these factors, however, Table 1 indicates that the number of registered voters exceeds the population of Zimbabwe, in all age bands of 30 and above, by a considerable margin. This is most notable in the 40–44 age group (162%) and the 80+ age group (219%). In the former, some of the over-registration may be explained by people who are registered as voters, but were absent from the country during the census count, that is, are part of Zimbabwe’s diaspora. The latter group most probably represents a large number of deceased persons who names still appear on the Voters’ Roll. In numerical terms the “over-registration” of people aged 30+ against the actual population is 1 146 760.

    This conclusion is further supported by the fact that there is an unlikely 116 195 people aged over 100 still on the roll.

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