THE EFFECTS OF VOTER APATHY ON THE GROWTH OF ELECTORAL DEMOCRACY IN ZAMBIA WITH SPECIAL FOCUS ON KABWE CENTRAL CONSTITUENCY

Author's Name: Mataka & Mwaka Ossin Nkandu
Subject Area: Social Science and Humanities
Subject Political Science
Section Research Paper

Keyword:

Voter apathy, Elections, Electoral democracy, Multipartism


Abstract

This paper analyses the effect of voter apathy on the growth of electoral democracy in Zambia with a focus on Kabwe central constituency. This study was a response to the decline in terms of voter turnout between 1991-2015 general elections in Zambia. This study relied on a mixed approach which combined both qualitative and quantitative research and used key informants for in-depth interviews and questionnaires. The study reveals that there is a positive co-relationship between voting and the growth of electoral democracy since voting promotes citizen participation which is one of the cardinal elements for the growth of electoral democracy. The study further revealed that elections fosters political tolerance and ensures peaceful transfer of power. However a myriad of factors account for voter apathy, these include failure to change leadership, failure to honour campaign promises by candidates who emerge victorious, electoral violence, and religious beliefs, age eligibility, limited voting hours and lack or inadequate voter education. The study concludes that the problem of voter apathy is one of the major threats of any democratic process and it is exacerbated when the election process lacks credibility. The 2016 Zambian General elections were characterized with a lot of irregularities which saw the election results challenged in the Constitutional court by the main opposition political party the United Party for National Development (UPND). The study recommends for an automated biometric voter registration system and that it be a continuous process in order to allow those that would have attained the voting age and relocated to be registered in those areas. The study further recommends the change in the voting system to allow for compulsory voting to everyone with a national registration card as a mechanism to increase levels of voter turnout. The study also recommends reforms to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in order for it to be an independent, competent, autonomous, and impartial arbiter which can inspire confidence in the electoral process. Finally, voter education should be strengthened and conducted from time to time to empower voters with necessary knowledge and skills about elections.

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