‘Politicians take advantage of ignorance to manipulate rural voters’

Lack of access to information is hindering rural communities from making informed decisions, especially during elections.

Zimbabwe is gearing towards the 2023 general elections.

 Discussing on the impact of lack of access to information in rural areas on This morning on Asakhe, a CITE daily Twitter space program, participants pointed out that access to information is key during elections.

Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) Programs Officer, Mlondolozi Ndlovu said the lack of information by rural communities affects their decision-making patterns.

“Lack of information affects communities in a very big way because you find that much of the information that people get from the government is mainly through the internet, the post-cabinet meeting, with the advent of the internet and the government trying to adopt new information systems, it affects communities for instance when it comes to Covid-19, people didn’t know why they should be vaccinated, how many dose, this lack of information affects them with the decisions that they make,” he said.

Ndlovu said lack of access to information also affects communities as politicians take advantage of the situation.

“If you look at political decisions that is why you find that it is easier for people in those areas to have politicians that come to tell them that when you vote someone will be looking at you in the ballot box.”

“As you move away from the urban centers closer to rural areas, the more you are likely to have lack of access of information, that means you cannot have information around education, health, environmental issues, which makes it difficult for people to make informed decision or informed choices on a number of issues,” said Ndlovu.

He added that access to the internet is still a challenge in rural communities.

“You find that where there is access to technology, access to gadgets that allow them to do so, is also problematic, what people call the internet is  WhatsApp, most of the gadgets which they have can only support such applications as WhatsApp and they are very limited to other applications that they access,” said Ndlovu.

He also said the other challenge has to do with illiteracy, “some of them are semi-literate but it comes very problematic for the people in those areas to actually use this new technology.”

Meanwhile, activist Diana Harawa said the issue of bureaucracy to access key information is also a very big challenge.

“The channels in which information should go through in rural areas are long. Our communities are still deep-rooted in terms of culture, even if you want to share, you have a smartphone, you have information may be through your WhatsApp but to share it people start asking you where did you get it, what if you are sharing wrong information because we don’t trust anything that comes within social media, the issue of the rootedness of our culture then affects the dissemination of information,” said Harawa.

She also said there are also barriers within traditional platforms that are available within the community level for them to access information.

“Then there is an issue of network connectivity, it’s a very big challenge to the rural community. They continue to be lagging behind in terms of everything even development,” said Harawa. 

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