The solution to voter apathy in Matabeleland lies in stakeholders intensifying voter education programmes to convince people in the region about the significance of participation in electoral processes, Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) regional officer, Ndodana Ndlovu has said.
Ndlovu was speaking Friday during the Breakfast Club, an online programme hosted by CITE.
“What I have noticed as an individual and a person working on issues of elections and governance is that we cannot rule out that people are misinformed; people have no information,” he said.
“We need to up our voter education efforts. When you go to the terminus and teach people there is actually a waste of time. I remember in our last voter education programme that we did, we had to use calendars to entice them to listen to us. You pretend you are giving somebody a calendar and you are carrying a number of them and someone says, ‘I also want a calendar’ and then they group up and you start educating them for five minutes, and you are educating somebody who is not even interested but just waiting for the calendar.”
He said there was a need to make voter education programmes formal for citizens to take them seriously.
“I think the best is to up the voter education programme and make sure that people are put in a formal way and educated,” he suggested.
“I know we have done that but normally, we usually do it with the civic society networks but we have not actually done public formal meetings that would take two to three days so that we really educate people.”
He explained further: “And the other thing is to encourage the Matabeleland populace and tell them that not voting is voting indirectly and what does that mean. It means that you are supporting the status quo. If there were 10 people who have been voting honestly and there are 100 people who have not been voting, it means the leaders who are there are leaders who have been chosen by only 10 people.”
He added: “If we do not come up in numbers, we will never have our own leaders. So, I think participation needs to be encouraged and people need to know that if you want change, change comes from participation. Some people say be the change that you want to be. If you want to be many, come in numbers, if you want to vote for your preferred candidate, come in numbers for that preferred candidate and if you are not registered to vote, you can’t.”
Meanwhile, Ndlovu said non-Matabeleland provinces were doing well on voter registration.
“Look at Harare, I think it’s almost a million now,” he said.
“The argument would be, is it because Harare people are more concerned with governance and election issues than Bulawayo people or what?”