CSOs applaud increase in registered voters

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have applauded citizens for registering under the biometric voter registration (BVR) mop-up exercise, which has seen an additional 344 549 people registering to vote across the country.

BY TALENT GUMPO/ ALEXIS SIBANDA

Addressing journalists in Bulawayo yesterday, Women’s Institute in Leadership Development (WILD) chairperson, Samukeliso Khumalo said this is a reflection of citizen’s interest in participating in this year’s elections.

“The Election Resource Centre (ERC), Heal Zimbabwe Trust, WILD, National Youth for Development Trust and Christian Alliance welcome efforts to enhance citizen participation and inclusivity by ensuring that marginalised groups such as aliens have access to the voter registration exercise.”

Khumalo said CSOs believe that while the extension of voter registration is commendable, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must address administrative, environmental and legislative issues surrounding the process.

She said CSOs have noted limited changes regarding administration of the voter registration mop-up exercise.

“While the mop-up exercise was meant to increase participation by citizens, 6 000 aliens have so far been turned away on the basis of failing to produce long birth certificates,” she said.

Khumalo said there is need for Zec to adopt different voter mobilisation strategies that will appeal to youths, as well as people living with disabilities.

“CSOs have appealed to election authorities to enhance access of BVR to eligible aliens, including persons with disabilities, women and youths, to ensure that voter registration, inspection of the voters’ roll, election campaign and the actual voting processes are open to all citizens and that they be allowed to assembly without fear or violence.

“Political parties must adhere to their code of conduct and align electoral laws with the Constitution. Immediately investigate and bring to book political players involved in politically-motivated attacks.”

ERC director Tawanda Chinhiwi said institutions such as, police should do their work in protecting the citizens, so that they can participate without fear.

“We should push the State so that they do their work of protecting citizens. We need to build trust in the State,” he said.

He urged people to freely exercise their rights because failure to vote is voting in a way.

“People should freely vote without any hindrance because failure to vote is also voting in a way. If we are still at a stage where we are encouraging people to vote, we still have a big problem because voting is everyone’s right,” he said.

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