A MATABELELAND-BASED civic society organisation, Bulawayo Agenda, will launch election debates this month for citizens to assess the strength of political parties and allow the public to engage on electoral issues.
In a statement yesterday, the organisation’s executive director Thabani Nyoni said the programme would start with secretaries-general of political parties articulating their party positions at a discussion forum.
“The series is an opportunity for the candidates to engage the audience and show what really differentiates them from their competitors,” he said. “It will also help the electorate make informed decisions during the elections and at the same time, promote a culture of tolerance in accepting others regardless of political affiliation.”
Nyoni said Bulawayo Agenda believed the forthcoming elections should be won or lost on the basis of the “strength of the policies and programmes sponsored by the contesting parties and candidates”.
“Bulawayo Agenda owes it to Zimbabweans to open up and democratise the electoral space which has largely remained a preserve of the political parties’ bureaucrats who choose when and how to engage citizens,” he said. “The election debates are about the citizens’ electoral agenda, which is to ensure that they have access to their right to know and say.”
Nyoni said political party representatives would not present prepared speeches, but would be taking questions from the public and answering them.