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The Zimbabwe electoral process and attendant issues: the voters' views
Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI)
September 2007

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In democratic polities, voting is the supreme act of citizen participation. In fact, voting is one of the 'procedural minimum' of democracy. Granted there are numerous ways and methods of participation but voting is easily the most visible and in all likelihood, the most effective method of 'speaking truth to power.' In Zimbabwe, the fundamental battle cry for all nationalist and liberation movements was: "One man, one vote." The nationalist demand was for voting as an inalienable right. In his Voting for Democracy: Electoral Politics in Zimbabwe (1992, 6), Jonathan Moyo made an acute observation: "The right to vote has a historical significance in Zimbabwe which dates back to the struggle against colonialism for Independence. How that right is being exercised in post-colonial Zimbabwe is a matter which should not be taken for granted."

There are numerous electoral systems in our global community and where voting is concerned, some systems require adult citizens to register (as in the USA) while in others (e.g. many European countries) citizens do not have to register or may do so in a simple, convenient, almost automatic way. In the former category, the requirements for voter registration (e.g. residency laws) and ponderous registration procedures present serious obstacles to the prospective voter. Zimbabwe falls in this category.

In conducting this study, we did not take anything for granted and we approached it with an open mind.

In Zimbabwe, voter registration constitutes the most crucial component and qualifier for participation in elections. Registration is entirely voluntary. The Zimbabwe government allows its citizens to register or check their registration status each time there are planned elections and this normally kicks off about nine months prior the elections. Zimbabweans who turn 18 can also register since they would have become eligible. The government also provides time for inspecting the voters' register. Researches have consistently shown that while a majority of Zimbabweans express much enthusiasm and desire to vote, fewer take the necessary and required step towards voting, i.e. registration and fewer still actually turn out to vote?

Since the turn of the millennium, elections in Zimbabwe have proved to be highly contestable political activities and their outcomes equally controversial. This has escalated political conflict and tension in society while the government elected via these elections suffers from legitimacy questions. This survey study sought answers to a whole range of elections-related issues and sought to do by asking the voters themselves. Below, we tender the survey findings. On the whole, rural Zimbabweans are more upbeat about elections than their urban counterparts.

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