BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
Bongani Ndlovu, a Zanu PF councillor in Matabeleland North’s Bubi district holds the unenviable record of registering the least number of voters in the March 26 parliamentary and local government elections.
Only 27 people voted for Ndlovu to represent Bubi’s ward six, the official tally of the council by elections released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) showed.
His closest rival Benjie Mpofu of the newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) garnered a meagre nine votes.
According to ZEC, ward six had over 500 registered voters when the by-elections were held and the number of people who turned up to vote for the new council showed a serious voter apathy.
In an almost similar situation, only 209 people out of a possible 709 in Victoria Falls turned out to elect the new councillor for war one.
A statistical analysis of the voter turnout in the March 26 by elections by the Zimbabwe Independent in collaboration with the Information for Development Trust (IDT) –a non-profit organisation that supports journalists in Zimbabwe and in the region to investigate issues of corruption in the public sector and bad governance –showed that the Bubi and Victoria Falls scenario demonstrated a national trend of massive voter apathy in the by-elections.
There were 28 parliament seats and 122 local government vacancies that were up for grabs as the county held its first by-elections since the 2018 polls following a ban on polls due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Analysis of the by-election results backed by research by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) showed that there was a 37 percent decline in the number of people that turned out to vote in the by-elections in Matabeleland North compared to those that cast their ballots in the 2018 polls.
Binga North was the only constituency in the province where there was a high voter turnout after 20 000 people cast their ballots to choose the new MP.
The ZDI analysis showed that the opposition recorded a bigger decline in the number of people who voted for its candidates as the CCC candidates got 38 percent less votes compared to what the MDC Alliance garnered in the 2018 elections.
MDC Alliance was the country’s largest opposition party in the 2018 polls, but was eclipsed by the three-month-old CCC in the by-elections.
Zanu PF saw a 21 percent decline in the number of voters who backed its candidates in the by-elections compared to the previous elections.
“Zanu PF improved its performance in Matabeleland North during the 2022 by-elections from the 2018 elections as shown by a 10% increase from 37% in 2018 to 47% in 2022 whereas CCC remained static (48%) between 2018 and 2022,” ZDI said.
“The winning margin of the opposition in these areas is decreasing.”
The research showed that voter apathy characterised the by-elections in all the country’s 10 provinces with Harare registering a staggering 66 percent decline in voter turnout and Bulawayo 75 percent compared to the 2018 elections.
Voter turnout in the general elections, which were the first since the ouster of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in a military coup a year earlier, was 75 percent.
Carol Mubita, a Matabeleland North based election observer, said worsening voter apathy showed that people were losing faith in political leaders given the state of the economy and their failure to deliver on election promises.
“This is why in Bubi only 37 people voted. I was there before the by-elections and the mood was that even if they vote they will remain stuck in poverty,” Mubita said.
“Politicians have failed the people they represent, and the unemployment levels continue going up.”
Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a Harare based academic and political analyst, said the reasons why Zimbabweans were not turning out to vote ranged from interference in electoral processes by security forces, waning confidence in ZEC and the opposition’s limited mobilisation capabilities.
Ruhanya cited political violence blamed on the ruling Zanu PF ahead of the March by-elections and moves by security forces to stop the opposition from campaigning for the poor turnout.
“You find them through Zanu PF storming a CCC rally and as such, one individual was killed in Kwekwe,” he said.
“Then you see that in Gokwe again where we saw the deployment of violent police with water cannons and again in Marondera where the police stopped a meeting of the CCC.
“So, there is an unholy alliance used by Zanu PF as the security apparatus in which the military and police work as the commissariat of Zanu during the elections
“When you look at voter turnout that affected the numbers because these people are intimidating the electorate.”
Wes Beal, a member of Pachedu, a group that has been exposing the poor state of the voters roll and other electoral malpractices on social media, believes that although questions around ZEC’s credibility could result in people losing confidence in the electoral system, voter turnout during by-elections is always very low compared to general elections.
“ZEC hasn’t released the number of votes cast (to date), but that said, turnout is always lower in by-elections compared to the national elections the world over,” Beal said.
There were widespread reports of people that were turned away from polling stations because they had been moved to different stations without their knowledge.
Zimbabwe’s voter roll is polling station based. ZEC was also accused of surreptitiously moving polling stations.
Ruhanya said ZEC’s conduct disenfranchised voters.
Beal said people also lose confidence in the electoral system because of poor performances by elected representatives.
Zimbabwe will hold general elections next year and ZEC is already working on the delimitation of constituencies.
Police Hunt For A Nkayi Murder Fugitive
BY STAFF REPORTER
A Nkayi man is reportedly on the run after allegedly assaulting a fellow villager with an unknown object on the head on New Year’s Day.
Police have identified the fugitive at Joinisa Tshuma from Dabe village who is being sought for a murder charge.
“ZRP is appealing for information which may lead to the arrest of Joinisa Tshuma who is being sought in connection with a case of murder in which Mcebisi Moyo died on 07/01/24,” police appealed.
“The suspect allegedly assaulted the victim on the head with an unknown object near a bush in Dabe Village, Nkayi on 01/01/24 before he fled the scene.”
According to police, the victim sustained some head injuries and he was admitted at Nkayi District Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.
Meanwhile, Police in Machipisa are also investigating a case of murder which occurred on Wednesday, in which a yet to be identified male adult approximately aged 30 years who was wearing a yellow t-shirt, black trousers, black gum boots and a black cap, was found lying dead with a stab wound on the back near Mapuranga Transport Service Garage in Harare.
Police are also appealing to the public with information surrounding the incident.
“Anyone with information to report at any nearest Police Station.”
Full ZRP Statement on Armed Robberies Raiding Elite Schools
As the schools open, parents and guardians are in the process of paying school fees, levies and other related school costs, for their children.
School authorities are therefore urged to deposit all monies at financial institutions to curb armed robbery cases.
The issue of collecting cash by school authorities at schools should be reconsidered given the recent armed robbery cases.
The Police has recorded armed robbery cases in Bulawayo and Chinhoyi in which schools are being targeted.
In one of the cases, unknown suspects pounced at George Silundika High School at corner George Silundika Street and Third Avenue, Bulawayo on 06th January 2024, where they stole US$17 280.00 cash which was in a cash box.
In another case which occurred at Lomagundi College, Chinhoyi on 09th January 2024, 12 unknown suspects attacked security guards before stealing an undisclosed amount of cash, a Mazda Tribute motor vehicle, cellphones and laptops, among other valuables.
School authorities are urged to step up security measures at schools and employ guards from reputable security service providers who constantly monitor and review deployments.
Above all, school authorities should install CCTV at points of entry and administration offices.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police is concerned that some of these robbery cases are resulting from leakage of information.
Members of the public are warned that those who provide inside information to robbery syndicates will be arrested.
Police crack teams are firm on the ground and will pounce on armed robbery syndicates for the law to take its course in earnest.
ARTUZ condemns government for opening of school amid Cholera outbreak
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has condemned the government’s decision to reopen schools due to the cholera outbreak wreaking havoc in most parts of the country, labeling the move reckless and disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care last week showed since the outbreak of cholera, Zimbabwe has recorded 15 137 suspected cholera cases, 1 759 confirmed cases, 14 578 recoveries, 67 confirmed deaths and 266 suspected deaths.
“We vehemently condemn the government’s reckless decision to open schools amidst the widespread cholera outbreak, completely disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers,” reads the statement.
“We demand that the government immediately mobilize substantial resources to ensure the safe reopening of schools because our children deserve nothing less than a secure and conducive learning environment.
“It is the duty of the government to provide sanitary solutions and ensure the safety and well-being of our children.
The union also called on the government to consider an upward increment of teachers’ salaries, criticizing the government’s lack of engagement with educators, particularly regarding their ongoing demand for a US$1 260 salary.
“Also, it is utterly disappointing to witness such a hasty move without even bothering to engage with the educators who have been tirelessly advocating for a just salary of US$1260.
“The safety and welfare of our students and teachers should be the utmost priority, but it seems that the government is callously neglecting this responsibility.
“It is high time for the government to prioritize the well-being of our education system and take meaningful action to address the urgent needs of our dedicated teachers. ”
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