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"Allow Zimbabweans abroad to vote"- poll
Richard Musazulwa, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
October 24, 2004

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/read.php?st_id=840

GWERU - THE majority of Zimbabweans including those in Zanu PF strongholds, want Zimbabweans living outside the country to be allowed to cast their votes in the forthcoming 2005 Parliamentary Elections, according to results of the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) survey.

Also, the majority of people interviewed were against the appointment of the chairperson of the proposed Independent Electoral Commission by President Robert Mugabe.

The survey on the Electoral Playing Field in Zimbabwe, which was conducted in August this year and released last week, says 64 percent of Zimbabweans want their brothers and sisters abroad to be allowed to cast their votes, with 54 percent against the appointment of the commission chair by President Mugabe.

Speaking at an up-date meeting with the media on Thursday Tulani Sithole said this was hardly surprising considering that for many Zimbabweans their means of survival were relatives staying abroad.

"This point takes on greater significance in the light of attempts by government to tap the foreign exchange from Zimbabweans abroad. Even provinces that are considered predominantly pro-Zanu PF subscribe to this view," Sithole said.

On the appointment of the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission by President Mugabe, Sithole said only two provinces, Mashonaland West and East were in favour of the proposal.

"It is also significant to note that even in the two provinces, opinion was almost split. Quite clearly, this is an issue that government would have done well to consult on," says the MPOI report.

Among other findings by the survey were that a significant 37 percent of potential voters are not registered as voters and that there was a worrying level of lack of the proposed electoral reforms with only 17 percent of the people interviewed aware of these reforms.

The report said this was a disturbing figure considering that the registration exercise has been on going for some time.

"It is even more disturbing considering the proximity of the 2005 Parliamentary Election. If the trend remains the same, what it means is that over a third of eligible voters will not cast their votes in the forthcoming elections," says the report.

The report also reveals another ominous sign for the electoral process in the country. Six months prior to the general election, 50 percent of eligible voters have not received any voter education.

"One issue that immediately springs to mind is the capacity of the electoral commission to undertake voter education. These statistics take on greater significance in the face of proposals to make the electoral commission, the only body allowed to carry out voter education in the country," reads the report.

The report also revealed that 64 percent of people interviewed were not in favour of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) boycotting the elections if their reform demands were not met and 54 percent of them were MDC supporters.

According to Sithole, the MPOI survey was conducted in two districts of each of the 10 provinces in the country.

He said his organisation initially wanted to sample 1 200 respondents but only ended up sampling 931 due to disturbances by so-called war veterans and ruling Zanu PF youths.

He said a total of 46 percent of those interviewed were male while 54 percent were female and questions were asked in the local languages spoken in the areas sampled.

MPOI is an independent, non-partisan research organisation that measures the social, economic and political atmosphere in the country.

The institute is interested in what Zimbabweans think about conditions in their country and the pressing policy issues of the day.

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