A LOCAL election watchdog has warned the MDC factions could 2018 rue their decision to boycott current by-elections as their potential voters could be missing from the 400,000 Zimbabweans recently drafted into the voter's roll.
According to statistics just released by the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC), an average of 25,000 voters per constituency have registered to cast their ballots in the 16 by-elections slated for June 10.
Because of the boycott, warned Election Resource Centre (ERC) director Tawanda Chimhini, a significant proportion of the voting population did not go out to attempt to register.
"The boycott has resulted in a significant proportion of the electorate not engaging in strategic election processes ahead of the 2018 elections," said Chimhini in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
"Imagine how many people have turned 18 since June 2013 in Zimbabwe and specifically in the by-election sites."
The three MDC factions, who have squabbled bitterly on many issues, have ironically found common ground in their boycott of current and future elections.
The opposition is adamant the polling environment is skewed in favour of Zanu PF.
In the ensuing stay away, President Robert Mugabe's party is thanking its gods for an opportunity to snatch a further 14 seats which were in the hands of the opposition.
The MDC-T says the loss of the seats to Zanu PF will not add any difference to their numerical inferiority in Parliament.
But Chimhini sees otherwise. He insists the MDCs will find it tough to marshal their supporters to register for the watershed polls 2018 if it were to persist with the gospel of non-participation.
“These people (MDC supporters) have not had the kind of motivation to actually go and register to vote because to them their political party is not participating in these by-elections," said Chimhini.
He added: "So it means only those that are participating have had their sympathisers or their voters actually registering to vote.
"In a way, it may prove very difficult come 2018 to convince the same people that were encouraged not to register to actually go out to register to vote.
"Our view is that every election should allow every eligible voter an opportunity to engage with the processes leading up to that election and sadly because of the boycotts, not everyone has got that opportunity."
Asked at a press briefing if his party had a firm strategy other than merely standing aloof to try and force Zanu PF to democratise the country's voting system, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was foolhardy to disclose his party's strategies to the media.
Chimhini feels those boycotting polls should go beyond mere threats to demonstrate their desire for the electoral processes to be opened up to all and sundry.
"If the decision to boycott has been taken, it should be accompanied by very aggressive strategies at addressing the very same things that are fuelling the boycott," he said.