NewsZimElections2023

‘ZEC must decentralise voter registration centres’

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been urged by political activists to bring voter registration centres closer to communities.

By bringing its offices closer to places where people are or becoming mobile, ZEC’s visibility may actually encourage more individuals to register, activists have said.

In Bulawayo, ZEC offices are located in Famona Suburb, which is out of the city centre.

Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces risk losing their constituencies if fewer people register to vote due to delimitation, which is a process of dividing the country into constituencies and wards for constituency seats in the National Assembly and local authorities.

In the previous election, the minimum threshold of a constituency, as indicated by ZEC, was 21 000 registered voters.

In an interview with CITE, ZAPU Secretary-General, Mthulisi Hanana, pointed out that ZEC offices in most districts were out of community reach, which disadvantaged new voters.

“As much as we are telling people to go and register to vote, as ZAPU, we are advocating to ZEC that the logistics of voting now are a bit beyond the reach of an average voter or would be voter. Take for instance, in areas where the district offices are 10km away in terms of transport and are not in the communities, it means communities that are offside the vicinity of the offices have to use a lot of money just to get to that office,” he said.

Hanana indicated that the registration process should be smooth sailing for people who were already facing other financial challenges.

“You will realise that the state of our economy is bad, our people are unemployed and still recovering from Covid-19 related problems. As a result, very few people can spare money to travel and go register to vote,” Hanana said, urging the government to further decentralise ZEC offices.

“I think the government must meet us halfway. ZEC must meet us halfway by making sure that it brings voter registration centres as close to the people as possible.”

Hanana added that the party was trying to entice youth to participate in civic processes and play active roles.

“As ZAPU, we are trying our level best to attract young voters. One of the things we successfully managed to do was to make sure our new leadership has 60 percent young people. That on its own is designed to attract the young voter,” he said.

“We also have our young people on social media encouraging one another and we engaged our youth structures to come up with programmes to bring young people together with the sole aim of getting them to register and vote.”

The ZAPU SG said its party president, Sibangilizwe Nkomo had already started going around rural areas, meeting and talking to people about the upcoming 2023 elections.

“These are some of the things that we are doing as ZAPU and these presidential visits and activation engagements are yielding a lot of fruit because from our database, our membership is growing at amazing levels. We feel we are now playing a very important role as a party of getting our members to vote. Now ZEC must bring the voter registration exercise as close to the people as possible. Our people are ready to register and vote but they have no means of getting to voter registration centres.”

Coordinator for the Save Magwegwe from Delimitation Campaign, Eric Gono, who launched a programme to push youth from the constituency to vote concurred that transport to ZEC offices was a challenge.  

Eric Gono

“We did very well the last two months or so. We were registering an average of around 50 people per week. However, for these past few days, we did not do well because of transport challenges,” he said.

“Our partners transporting us have been a bit slow and as the coordinator, I was also occupied with other national commitments so I was not really on the ground that much.”

Read: https://cite.org.zw/magwegwe-youths-in-voter-registration-drive/

However, Gono noted their registration campaign had ‘successfully’ registered about 300 new voters in Magwegwe constituency since the start of the programme in September.

“There is potential to register more and we will continue with the recruitment process. We are in the process of trying to engage partners who can help us in terms of facilitating us to go to the ground to recruit new voters,” said the youth activist.

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