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The Electoral System in Zimbabwe

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 Single Member Plurality (SMP), Single Member Majority (SMM), Proportional Representation (PR) and the Mixed Member Proportional System (MMP). 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.

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 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
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.
How is this done?
1. Ascertain the total number of votes cast for each participating party e.g. if a province
has 3 constituencies add together the number of votes received by each party in all the
3 constituencies.
2. Add together the totals of each party to get the total votes received by all the
participating parties in the province.
3. Divide total number of votes received by all parties in the province by the number of
seats being contested for (6 for Senate, 6 for National Assembly and 10 for Provincial
Councils)
Example:
 3 Parties (Parties A, B and C) filed party-list nomination forms.
 Province has 3 constituencies (X, Y, and Z constituencies)
 Table below shows number of votes received by each party in each of the 3
constituencies
Name of
Party
Votes received per constituency Total Votes received in
Province
Constituency X Constituency Y Constituency Z
A 205 404 601 1 210
B 300 125 405 830
C 80 210 167 457
TOTAL 585 739 1 173 2 497
So the province has 2 497 votes cast for the 3 political parties.
Next determine the quota by dividing the total votes cast by the parties by the number of seats
to be allocated i.e. 2 497 divided by 6 = 416.1 So quota is 416.
After quota has been determined the responsible officer must then allocate the seats to the
parties.
How is this done?
Stage 1
Each political party is allocated a seat for each number of votes that constitute the quota. This
is determined by dividing the number of votes cast for each party by the quota
Name of Party Total No. of Votes
received
Votes divided
by quota
Provisional
allocation of
seats
Unallocated
votes
A 1 210 (1 210 divide by
416 =2.9)
2 378
B 830 (830 divided by 416
= 1.9)
1 414
C 457 (457 divided by 416
= 1.0)
1 41
The provisional allocation allocates 4 seats, that is, 2 seats to party A, 1 seat to party B and 1
seat to party C leaving 2 seats unallocated.
Stage 2
The responsible officer will then allocate the remaining seats to the parties with the greatest
number of unallocated votes. In the example above party B has the largest number of
unallocated votes namely 414 followed by party A with 378. So the 2 remaining seats are
allocated to Party B and Party A.
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).

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