HomeOpinion & AnalysisOnus on people to promptly register to vote

Onus on people to promptly register to vote

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The country’s electoral season officially began yesterday with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) launching the biometric voter registration exercise.

As has become expected, Zec has lurched from one controversy to the other and this time it has to do with the number of voter registration centres in Harare and Bulawayo in particular.

Harare has an estimated population of 2,1 million people, but has only two centres, one being in Chitungwiza.
Far smaller provinces have more registration centres and it beggars belief what Zec is up to.

The electoral body can argue that other provinces are mainly rural and inaccessible and need more centres, a valid argument, but that does not mean they should reduce the number of centres in places like Harare and Bulawayo.

Instead of seemingly throttling Harare, Zec should have had more centres as the population of the city justifies the need to have more registration points in the capital.

Another argument Zec can proffer is that they do not have a sufficient number of kits for the registration exercise, but this begs the question why they bothered to launch the voter registration exercise when they were not yet fully prepared.

Be that as it may be, Zimbabweans should respond by all going out to register to vote, as this is one of the key elections that could define a generation.

Political parties should urge their members to be patient even if they feel the process is taking too long, as President Robert Mugabe has already mentioned in past reports.

Instead of the norm, where people want to register at the last minute, it is critical that Zimbabweans register as soon as possible to avoid the rush and frustration that comes with deadlines.

Also, there is need for a massive voter registration awareness drive, so that as many people as possible register to vote in the 2018 elections.

Voter apathy has been the hallmark of past elections, which have often been marred by allegations of rigging, but Zimbabweans cannot afford to be apathetic if they want to have a say in the manner in which their country is governed.

Zec, civil society organisations and political parties need to be at the forefront of the registration publicity drive, to ensure that everyone who wants to exercise their right to vote is not left out next year.

The need for a high turnout cannot be overemphasised, as voting — one man one vote — was one of the pillars of the liberation struggle and is one of the foundations that the country is built on.

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