Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Matabeleland region has the least number of registered voters countrywide, a development that could eventually result in the loss of constituencies ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections if the trend doesn’t change.
The public has been urged to take advantage of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s mobile registration exercises next month and in April to register.
Analysts have said participating in electoral processes has implications in the development of local communities, hence the need to register to vote.
In a public notice, Zec revealed that as of January 8, the country had 5.6 million registered voters countrywide.
Women constitute most of the registered voters with more than 3 million on the voter’s roll.
From the Zec statistics, Bulawayo has the lowest number of registered voters with 254 630 followed by Matabeleland South with 259 689 registered voters and Matabeleland North standing at 335 851.
Mashonaland Central has 527 505 registered voters, Masvingo 610 436, Mashonaland East 625 330 and Mashonaland West 647 768.
Harare has the highest number of registered voters with 891 024 followed by Midlands with 752 665, while Manicaland has 727 677 registered voters.
Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said members of the public should take advantage of the coming mobile voter registration exercise to increase the number of eligible voters.
The first phase of Zec’s mobile registration exercise starts on February 1 up to February 28, with the second phase running from April 11 to April 30.
“When we roll out the kit deployment plan for the voter registration, all those areas that were said to be remote and difficult to access, we will be sending mobile kits into those areas during specified times and dates, which will be advised in advance and hopefully we will get registrants coming up in high numbers to register.
The solution to the problem is having more registrants coming up to register if they want to retain their seats,” said Justice Chigumba.
She said the delimitation exercise that will be carried out in August will determine the number of constituencies each province will have.
Political parties and civil society organisations have rallied members of the public to register to vote, saying participating in electoral processes is directly linked to development.
Zanu-PF Matabeleland South political commissar Cde Washington Nkomo said the ruling party will soon embark on voter education programmes.
“The statistics are worrying and as a new provincial executive, we will soon roll out a programme to encourage people to vote. We understand the implications of having few registered voters as a province, as it might result in us losing constituencies in future elections,” said Cde Nkomo.
“Losing constituencies will mean that as a province we have lesser representation in Parliament.
Parliament plays an oversight role on the Executive, so our legislators become our voices in Parliament. If we have few representatives compared to other provinces, it means that even on development issues we will miss out.”
He said they are confident that when Zec rolls out its mobile registration blitz, more people will be registered.
Civil Society Organisations in the Matabeleland region have formed a coalition under the banner Ekhaya Vote to encourage the public to register to vote.
Ekhaya Vote spokesperson Mr Nkosikhona Dibiti said participating in the electoral process is key for the development of the Matabeleland region.
He said more people need to be educated about the need to participate in elections.
“Some people don’t even know why voting is necessary for them. To them it’s just about someone being elected. But this goes far beyond that as it speaks to the distribution of resources based on available demographic figures,” he said.
“So, we need to come up with a holistic approach and have to ask these questions; can we link voting to service delivery, can we link voting to resource distribution?
That is the kind of thinking we should be stuck with instead of just thinking about who won and who lost.
That will not bear much difference to the everyday lives of people. Let us link it to the development of constituencies and the region.” – @nqotshili