Zimbabwe: Electoral System

Updated January 2008

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Legal and institutional framework

Legal basis Constitution of Zimbabwe, 1980. Amended 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013
Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13)
Referendums Act (Chapter 2:10)
Political Parties (Finance) Act (Chapter 2:11)
Electoral system National Assembly: 210 members elected by secret ballot from single member constituencies and, for the first two Parliaments, 60 women elected by proportional representation[1]
Senate: Senate's 80 members: six elected from each of the 10 provinces, by proportional representation; 18 chiefs; two members elected to represent people with disabilities[2]
Presidential: Directly elected by universal adult franchise, absolute majority required[3]
Electoral management bodies (EMBs) Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) demarks boundaries of the constituencies, prepares for and conducts elections and referendums; ensures that they are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law; directs and controls voter registration; compiles voters rolls; conducts voter education[4]
Independence of EMBs Chairperson of the ZEC is appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission and Committee on Standing Rules and Orders and 6 commissioners (at least three of women) appointed by President from nine nominees of Committee on Standing Rules and Orders[5]
Political parties Zimbabwe has no law requiring registration by political parties.
Funding and regulation: Public funding for political parties with a minimum of 5% of votes cast in the last election in proportion to the number of votes they recieved; foreign funding and donations are prohibited by the Political Parties (Finance) Act[7]
Code of conduct legally enforceable by multiparty liaison committees[8]
Civil society Civil society organisations have been at the forefront of the fight against authoritarianism and been cracked down on as a result[8]
Mass media Broadcast controlled by state, print media dominated by state[9]
Every party has the right to reasonable access to the media and public broadcasters must give all political parties and independent candidates free access to their services as prescribed in regulations made by the ZEC; ZEC must monitor the media, with assistance of Zimbabwe Media Commission, and ensure compliance with law[10]

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Election management

Election period Concurrent Presidential, House of Assembly, Senate and local elections every 5 years; President proclamations election dates after consultation with ZEC[11]
Polling station are open continuously from 7:00-19:00; voters in queue at closing permitted to vote[12]
Delimitation of constituencies The ZEC is tasked with delimiting constituencies and wards every ten years, taking into consideration public representations; constituencies should each have an equal number of voters, with due regard to physical features, communication, geographical distribution of registered voters, community of interest and existing electoral boundaries[13]
Voter registration and voters' rolls Voter registration is voluntary and continuous; registration closes 12 days after nomination day[14]
Registration is with constituency registrar who is subject to the control of ZEC[15]
Applicants are issued with registration certificates[16]
Voters rolls are open to public inspection at constituency registrar during office hours and copies must be supplied to the public on payment of a prescribed fee[17]
Civic and voter education ZEC is tasked by law with conducting voter education that is adequate, accurate and unbiased, and that voter education undertaken by others (excluding political parties) is adequate, not misleading or biased; they must be Zimbabean citizens or registered NGOs, they must adhere to programmes and instructions of the ZEC and charge no fees; all material, trainer details and funding must be disclosed to the ZEC; all foreign funding must be channelled through the ZEC[18]
Candidate nomination Parliamentary Elections: candidates are nominated by means of a nomination paper signed by 10 registered voters, contact details and accompanied by a photograph; if endorsed by a party the paper must be signed by an office bearer; a prescribed fee is required as well as proof of registration as a voter in that constituency[19]
Presidential Elections: Nominated by means of a nomination paper signed by 10 registered voters from each province, contact details and accompanied by a photograph; if endorsed by a party the paper must be signed by an office bearer; a prescibed fee is required[20]
Election observation Individuals accredited by ZEC may observe elections subject to code of conduct[21]
Individuals representing foreign countries, international, regional and local organisations and bodies similar to ZEC that are invited by Government Ministers may observe elections and are accredited by an accreditation committee of the ZEC which issues them with code of conduct[22]
Election campaign Political activity of parties and candidates subject to code of conduct laid down in law, but with no penalties attached to violations[23]
No campaigning is permitted from midnight twenty-four hours before polling day[24]
Conflict prevention and management Multiparty liaison committees are set up by ZEC at national, provincial and constituency level to attempt to resolve electoral disputes; election petitions are heard by Electoral Court[25]
Secrecy of the ballot It is prohibited for anyone to interfere with a voter when marking a ballot paper or to discover how a voter has voted or to tell another how a voter has voted[27]
Voters requiring assistance in marking their ballots may choose another voter to assist them[28]
Counting After the close of the poll counting takes place at polling stations by presiding officer in presence of polling officers, monitors and observers and the candidates and their election agents as are present; the results are shown to all present and displayed outside the polling station[29]
Announcement of results Presiding officer announces the result, transmits it to constituency elections officer and posts a copy of the results outside the polling station[30]
In the presence of monitors and observers and the candidates and their election agents the constituency elections officer verifies the returns and adds up the votes and declares the result; the outcome is transmitted to Chief Elections Officer, who publishes it in the Gazette[31]

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Table notes

[1] Constitution 2013, 124 (1). The first two Parliaments are those of 2013 and 2015; the proportional representation is based on the votes cast for candidates representing political parties in a general election for constituency members in the provinces.
[2] Constitution 2013, 120 (1). Two chiefs are elected from each of the 8 non-metropolitan provinces by the provincial assembly of Chiefs of the province. The President and Deputy President of the National Council of Chiefs are ex officio members.
[3] Constitution 2013, 92(3), Schedule 4 1(1). If the president does not complete the term (dies, resigns or is removed from office) the first Vice-President assumes office as President until the expiry of the former President's term of office (101(1)(a),(b)).
[4] Constitution 2013, 239.
[5] Constitution 2013, 238(1).
[7] Political Parties (Finance) Act 2001.
[8] Booysen & Toulou 2009, 642.
[9] Booysen & Toulou 2009, 643.
[10] Electoral Act, 3(c)(4), 160E-160K.
[11] Constitution 2013, 95, 143(1), 144, 158(2).
[12] Electoral Act, 53.
[13] Constitution 2013, 161; Electoral Act, 37A.
[14] Electoral Act, 17A, 26A.
[15] Electoral Act, 18, 24.
[16] Electoral Act, 24-26.
[17] Electoral Act, 21.
[18] Electoral Act, 40B-40F.
[19] Electoral Act, 46(1), 47(1).
[20] Electoral Act, 104(1).
[21] Electoral Act, 6(5)(c).
[22] Electoral Act, 6. The accreditation committee consists of the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the ZEC, a Commissioner designated by the Commission, a nominee of the Office of the President and Cabinet a nominee of the Minister and a nomineee of the Minster of foreign affairs (Electoral Act Chapter 2:13, 6(2)).
[23] Electoral Act, Fourth Schedule.
[24] Electoral Act, Fourth Schedule, 9(1).
[25] Electoral Act, 160A-160D, 161-165.
[27] Electoral Act, 86.
[28] Electoral Act, 59 (1). If no one is available assist, the presiding officer may, in the presence of two other electoral officers or employees of the Commission and a police officer on duty, assist.
[29] Electoral Act, 62-64.
[30] Electoral Act, 64-65.
[31] Electoral Act, 65-67.

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BOOYSEN, S & TOULOU, L 2009 "Chapter 15: Zimbabwe" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg.

CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE 2013, [www] http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/Final%20draft%20Constitution%2025%20January%202013.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 20 May 2013).

POLITICAL PARTIES (FINANCE) ACT (CHAPTER 2:11), [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/ZW/Political%20Parties%20%28Finance%29%20Act%20Chapter%202%2011.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 25 Jul 2013).

ELECTORAL ACT CHAPTER 2:13, incorporates all amendments until SI 85/2013, [www] http://www.veritaszim.net/sites/veritas_d/files/Electoral%20Act%20consolidated%20as%20at%2022%20June%202013.docx [MS Word] (accessed 24 Jul 2013).

REFERENDUMS ACT (CHAPTER 2:10), [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/ZW/Referendums%20Act%20 Chapter%202%2010.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 10 Mar 2010)

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