The Elections We Want

On 23 August 2023, Zimbabweans will head to the polls to vote for councillors, members of parliament, and a president who will represent them for the next five years. The credibility of this forthcoming election already hangs in the balance as poll outcomes have been the subject of major electoral disputes since the early 2000s. Regular contestations of Zimbabwean polls are attributed to electoral misconduct, the use of state resources in favour of the ruling party, biased and partisan state media, voter intimidation, and state-sponsored violence against opposition elements.

Distrust in electoral processes is one of the key factors for growing voter apathy. Even fewer people seem to believe that elections could bring about urgently needed change in the country. Of Zimbabwe's 15.2 million people, over 40 per cent live in extreme poverty, with rural-based women being the most affected.

Much has been said about the perils and shortcomings of past Zimbabwean elections; these have represented lost opportunities for real change. The Elections We Want, as the theme for the dossier, explores perspectives from Zimbabwean activists and citizens as they continue to struggle for free and fair elections despite growing authoritarianism and political violence. Contributions look at ways to enhance participation, especially of young people; the role of bodies like the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as observers and potential mediators; voters' expectations of their government; a diasporic view of Zimbabweans navigating the intersections of migration and xenophobia; and most importantly the common desire to see a 'NEW Zimbabwe'.

Residents of Mbare in Harare wait in a queue to register to vote ahead of August 23 polls | Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
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Podcast Young people in Zimbabwe are torn. Not just about who to vote for, but whether or not they’ll vote at all. As Zimbabweans head to the polls on August 23rd, it may be the first or second time young people can participate in the election of a president since the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule in 2017. Election violence, an unstable economy and lack of reforms have jaded Zimbabwe’s youth. This podcast was produced by Radio Workshop in collaboration with Magamba Network, a partner of the HBF Cape Town Office.

In pictures: Zimbabwe in the weeks before the 2023 Elections
Photography and text by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
A Supporter of the ruling party the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front or ZANU–PF is waving the Zimbabwean flag at a campaign rally in Harare. Zimbabwe is heading into another closely watched election in a country with a history of violent and disputed polls.
Supporters of the opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change or CCC hold a campaign poster at a rally on the outskirts of Harare. The opposition has accused the ruling party of relying on violence, intimidation and institutions like the police and the courts to crack down on critical figures, ban opposition rallies and prevent candidates from running.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses supporters at a campaign rally in Harare ahead of polls set for August 23. The 80-year-old is seeking to extend the ruling ZANU-PF party’s 43-year hold on power on the backdrop of serious economic problems bedevilling the resource-rich southern African nation of 15 million people.
Lawyers are seen outside the High Court during a court hearing over election related disputes and nomination courts proceedings which saw other presidential candidates and aspiring candidates being disqualified.
Zimbabwean main opposition party leader, Nelson Chamisa, greets party supporters at a rally on the outskirts of Harare. President Mnangagwa is seeking what would be his final term. But he will first have to get past the 45 year-old Nelson Chamisa whom he narrowly beat in a disputed election in 2018.
A campaign poster of Zimbabwe’s only female Presidential candidate - United Zimbabwe Alliance Leader Elizabeth Valerio who won her appeal against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Asked on what she thinks about being the only women among 11 presidential candidates, Valerio said: “It is a historic moment for gender equality and women's representation in leadership roles. It symbolises the breaking of barriers and paves the way for more women to aspire to and achieve positions of power and influence.”
Videos: The youth have their say
The FeedZW is a project of the HBF Cape Town partner, Magamba Network. With cutting edge video, visual and audio content, it offers youth a platform to share their own narrative. In the lead up to the 2023 elections, The FeedZW talked to young people about their expectations for the elections.

Defending the Youth Vote

As the clock moves towards the 2023 general elections, is the youth vote guaranteed? Will young people use their majority and exercise their right to participate in choosing leaders of their choice or better still run as candidates?

Defending The 2023 Youth Vote - Zimbabwe | TheFeedZW - The FeedZW

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Zim Elections Are Not Free And Fair

Voter apathy has become a worrisome trend in Zimbabwe. Since the 2018 harmonized election, voter turnout has averaged around 30 to 35%. As the 2023 election draws closer, will the youth go out and vote?

"Zim Elections Are Not Free And Fair" | Why The Youth Don't Vote - The FeedZW

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"Politicians Take Us For Granted" - Voices Of Youth Living With Disabilities

Inaccessible polling stations, lack of assistive devices, negative attitudes and stereotypes, and inadequate information and education are some of the barriers people living with disabilities face in political spaces

"Politicians Take Us For Granted" - Voices Of Youth Living With Disabilities | Newsbite - The FeedZW

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The Role of Election Observers