Digital divide as a determinant on voting habits in Zimbabwe?


Studies on digital divide have tended to look at issues of access and related effects with regards to democratic participation (Heacok 2009; Mhiripiri & Mutsvairo 2014; Mare 2015; Fuchs 2008; Roycroft & Anatho 2003), employing the digital architecture as a measurement access to economic opportunities and statuses as well a tool for judging the extent of active adoption of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Popescu 2015). Some of the studies conducted have concluded that digital platforms are influencing the changing democracy design all over the world with seminal cases including the uprisings of North Africa between 2010 and 2011 and elections in western Europe and North America occupying centre stage of such scholarship (Shirky 2010; Loader et al. 2011; Diamond 2015). However, little is known on the extent of the relatedness between digital distribution, uses and voting habits in developing contexts. This paper investigates this gap in scholarship in a developing context with the view of bringing a more nuanced understanding. This study explores the relationship between digital consumption, digital distribution, digital access and voting patterns in Zimbabwe with Masvingo province as a case study. Critically, the study seeks to understand if information consumption on digital platforms determines how rural and urban Zimbabweans vote in local and national elections, using the 2018 elections as a case study. A secondary question this study asks is who consumes what on Zimbabwe’s digital sphere? This study makes an empirical and theoretical contribution building on Morozov (2009) and Gladwell's (2011; 2012) studies that challenge the magic bullet effects of social media. formats as influencing views and perceptions of citizens on the electoral decision-making process. This study employs the Network Action Theory and a mixed-methods approach that combines structured interviews and document analysis.