An electoral system is as a method by which votes are translated into legislative seats. The choice of the system would, therefore, determine the nature of representation and the format by which seats are allocated.

There are four main types of electoral systems used throughout the world namely the

The type of the system selected has an impact on the participation, especially that of women and other disadvantaged groups.

Zimbabwe’s electoral system is a mixed system consisting of the Single Member Majority system, the Single Member Plurality System popularly known as the First-past-the-post system and the Proportional Representation System.

Contents

Single member majority

The Single Member Majority system is applied for the Presidential election. In this system, the winner must obtain an absolute majority of votes the minimum being 50% plus one vote. If a candidate fails to secure an outright majority, a run-off election is conducted between the two candidates with the highest number of votes. What does this mean?


Scenario 1

If there are only two candidates to the Presidential election then the person who receives the greater number of votes is declared the winner.

Scenario 2

If there are more than two candidates to the Presidential election the person who receives more than half the number of votes cast i.e. 50% plus one vote is declared a winner. (Note it is not enough to receive more votes than the others, it has to be more than half the votes cast. Further, it cannot be just 50% of the votes cast because the law talks of “more than half” so the one vote added to the 50% is what will tilt the scales.

Scenario 3

Where there are more than two candidates to a Presidential election and no candidate receives the required 50% plus one vote then a run-off election shall be held on a date fixed by the President in the Proclamation calling for elections. (That date has currently been fixed as of Saturday 8 September 2018.

Proportional representation system

The Proportional Representation System is applied for 60 members of the upper house of Parliament i.e. the Senate, 60 members of the National Assembly all of whom must be women and for the Provincial Councils in the 8 non-metropolitan provinces. To qualify a party must have filed nomination papers for election under the PR System. So a Party that has not filed a party-list nomination form for election under the PR System is not eligible to be allocated seats. To allocate seats the officer responsible must first determine a quota.

Senate PR System

For the upper house of Parliament (the Senate) 60 senators (six from each of the 10 provinces) are elected on the basis of party-list proportional representation (PR system). The proportion of seats to be given to each party is calculated based on the provincial returns of votes for parties fielding candidates in the National Assembly elections. On each party-list for the Senate, male and female candidates are listed alternatively, with every list headed by a female candidate (Zebra list). The remaining 20 seats of the Senate are distributed amongst the Chiefs, persons with disabilities and the President and Deputy President of the National Council of Chiefs.

National Assembly PR system

For the National Assembly Women’s Quota) 60 members (six from each of the 10 provinces) are elected on the basis of party-list proportional representation (PR system). The proportion of seats to be given to each party is calculated based on the provincial returns of votes for parties fielding candidates in the National Assembly elections. The party-lists must contain only women candidates.

Provincial Council PR System

For the Provincial Councils, 10 members from each of the 8 non-metropolitan provinces are elected on the basis of party-list proportional representation (PR system). The proportion of seats to be given to each party is calculated based on the provincial returns of votes for parties fielding candidates in the National Assembly elections. On each party-list for the Senate, male and female candidates are listed alternatively, with every list headed by a female candidate (Zebra list).

First-Past-The-Post System

The First - Past – the - Post, that is, Single Member Plurality System is used for elections in the lower house of Parliament (the National Assembly) and for local authority elections. Under this electoral system, the country is divided into 210 electoral constituencies and 1958 wards, each of which is represented by a candidate. The candidate with the highest number of votes is declared the winner. The winner in each constituency is the candidate who receives a minimum of one vote more than the other candidate(s).