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Poor voter registration turnout worries Byo MPs

Luveve Member of Parliament Stella Ndlovu has expressed concern over poor voter registration in her constituency warning that the constituency is one of those which could be lost if voter registration apathy continues.

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Bulawayo risks losing three constituencies during the upcoming delimitation exercise if the figures do not improve.

Delimitation is the process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for the purposes of elections of persons to constituency seats in the National Assembly and of councillors to local authorities.

Speaking at a resident meeting in Luveve, Saturday, Honourable Ndlovu said there is need to embark on a campaign to encourage eligible citizens to register as voters.

Ndlovu explained that if the numbers do not increase, the constituency would risk being delimited and all the benefits meant for them would be channeled to other constituencies.

The MP said wards 15 and 16 (Luveve and Gwabalanda) combined have a total of about 15 000 voters and need about 11 000 more to be deemed a constituency.

“At the moment we still have Cowdray Park to help increase the number but it already has 23 000 registered voters. If they get 3000 more then they will stand on their own. The onus is up to wards 15 and 16 to ensure that we get more people to register. There are a lot of people in our wards and if we do not challenge one another we will lose our constituency,” she said.

A resident from Ward 15, Amon Mpofu, said parents are to blame as they do not encourage their children to register to vote.

He said parents leave their children behind when they attend community meetings with legislators resulting in them missing out on information that could equip them with the knowledge on the importance of exercising their right to vote.

“Parents must take it upon themselves to encourage their children to attend such meetings. Almost every parent comes from a home where there are youths but none of them brought them here. Such platforms are important to the youths because they give them a sense of responsibility over development of their communities. It is unfair for parents to come here all by themselves and make decisions on their behalf,” he said.

“Most of these youths spend their time loitering at shopping centres and bottle stores binging on alcohol instead of being encouraged to attend such constructive forums which can yield them opportunities to start up income generating projects.”

Lucky Sibanda, a youth who attended the meeting noted that young people are hardly awarded an opportunity to air their views when it comes to community development deliberations.

“I have been here the entire meeting and I have been raising my hand but haven’t been recognised. All opportunities are being awarded to the elderly yet the projects they want to embark on are said to develop the youths. We know what we want and we can speak for ourselves. Such attitude is what makes young people develop cold feet even during voting time because they are made to feel unworthy,” he said.

Ishmael Mnkandla, another youth laid the blame of poor voter registration on politicians citing that they make lots of promises during campaign time but never follow them through.

“If only politicians could be true to the word they give to people. Young people have lost hope. They feel they are being let down. Politicians promise us jobs and assistance to start up projects that would help us sustain ourselves but once they get into power we get nothing. At the end of the day it is difficult to encourage them to register to vote,” said Mnkandla.

Elizabeth Nkomazana, a community care giver challenged the government to ensure that all citizens acquire documentation that will enable them to vote.

“The biggest challenge is the issue of residents who do not have birth certificates. It thus becomes a hindrance to them to go and register to vote because of lack of documentation. If the government could at least assist every citizen to attain proper documentation. This does not only affect people in rural areas but also those in urban areas,” she said.

She said there must be a mechanism that should be set up to enable postal voting to accommodate Zimbabweans who are outside the country.

“We also need to encompass our children who have fled the country in search of greener pastures. The government must make provisions for them to be able to register and vote from where they are because it is their constitutional right to vote,” said Nkomazana.

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