Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
Voter education ahead of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) voter registration blitz set for next month and in April will be key in ensuring people in remote areas successfully register to vote.
The mobile voter registration exercise is also expected to give members of the public an opportunity to inspect the voters’ roll.
It has been previously reported that 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.
According to statistics released by Zec, 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.
The public has been urged to take advantage of Zec’s mobile registration exercises next month and in April to register.
Matabeleland South provincial elections officer Mr Rabson Nyoni said through voter education, members of the public would be advised on what they should present to Zec teams in order for them to successfully register to vote.
“We’ve had voter registration before when we were preparing for the 2018 elections, that’s where we had responses of people coming forward to register and at the end of the day, we had a specific number of people who registered in the province in their respective constituencies.
But those numbers in most of the constituencies were low. What we’re going to do now is a voter registration blitz that will be conducted throughout the country and we will deploy our voter registration teams,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said the voter registration teams would be fronted by voter educators who will be motivating members of the public on the ground to vote.
“Say for example, we go to a community and there’s a school or a business centre, we set up our machines there. Our teams would’ve gone ahead and made the people aware that we’ll be registering people. That’s the approach we’re now planning on using.
With voter education, we will be telling them when their place is being visited by our teams. We’ll also be educating them on what they should present to the team for them to successfully register,” said Mr Nyoni.
He highlighted that in order for one to successfully register to vote, they have to be a citizen of Zimbabwe, 18 years of age and above, they have to have a national identification document or valid Zimbabwean passport and proof of residence.
“Even when you don’t have the proof of residence, the teams will be having an affidavit that you can complete in case you visit without the proof of residence. However, the voter education would be specifically emphasising that one should bring proof of residence.
We will first check anybody who visits our centre where we’ll be registering people on the voters’ roll. We’ll be having a search facility that has the national voters’ roll. First we check the ID, once we punch in the ID number, it will indicate all the other details; that you’re registered and you vote at a specific polling station.
If you’re registered, we’ll just confirm, if the information is incorrect and you need to correct it, we’ll give you the opportunity to correct the information,” said Mr Nyoni.
Analysts have said participating in electoral processes has implications in the development of local communities, hence the need to register to vote.
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.”
In a public notice, Zec revealed that as of January 8, the country had 5.6 million registered voters.
Women constitute most of the registered voters with more than three million on the voters’ roll. – @Yolisswa