REPORTS that the ruling Zanu PF party supporters with the connivance of traditional leaders in the countryside have intensified intimidation tactics at voter registration centres where they are demanding serial numbers from certificates issued to registered voters are deplorable and unfortunate for Zimbabwe.
If weekly reports by independent elections watchdog, Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn), are anything to go by, then Zimbabweans are owed an explanation by the authorities.
Yet, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), which should oversee the smooth registration of the citizenry in preparation for the crucial 2018 election, is still to find its voice on this pertinent issue.
It boggles the mind why Zec would remain silent on matters that threaten the lives of the majority of the people eager to participate in the governance of their country in the ongoing biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise.
We are aware that the practice is rampant in rural areas, whereby registrants are being misinformed about the BVR and its purpose. We, therefore, urge Zec to stop the bullying of potential voters.
We suspect that Zanu PF would always want to cause disharmony among Zimbabweans by creating confusion and chaos to make it easy for its machinery to rig the forthcoming elections.
But we believe Zimbabweans cannot be any wiser after going through contested past presidential elections results which have condemned the majority to penury for almost 17 years.
We condemn Zanu PF for instigating violence, and urge Zec, the security establishment and the international community to keep an eye on those seeking to destabilise the country.
Zimbabweans are naturally peace-loving people. They also know that Zanu PF youths’ claims that they would be able to see who they would have voted for are all lies, and hence they will not be coerced into voting for a party that has reduced them to beggars literally.
What is equally disturbing are Zesn claims that traditional leaders are withholding food aid and threatening violence on perceived opposition supporters.
The citizenry should disregard Zanu PF machinations to systematically rig the 2018 elections by using State resources to force their choice on the populace. Besides, it is a fact as clear as daylight that the citizens’ voting choices will not be traceable in the 2018 election.
Therefore, we agree with Zesn and urge Zec to conduct comprehensive voter education and information dissemination to ensure that citizens are well informed about the BVR process to demystify some of these shenanigans by politicians. Turning away large numbers of prospective voters is unacceptable, and hence there should be a way to help those wishing to vote to register going forward regardless of the stringent conditions set by Zec.
Aliens should also be allowed to register to vote in the elections. Government should not ignore their pleas for a voice as well as they form a large chunk of untapped voters who have cast a swinging vote across the country.
We believe there is no need for all political players to taint the next vote for political expediency. If anything, it is important for political parties to show maturity and encourage their supporters to vote without antagonising them because whipping people’s emotions could backfire badly.