THE poor voter registration turnout that has been recorded in Bulawayo, with less than five residents taking part in the ongoing exercise each month according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) must serve as a wake-up call to the opposition parties as Zanu PF is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of such lethargy.
The country is already in the election cycle ahead of the 2023 elections and the opposition needs to hit the ground running by ensuring that their new members are registered to vote while the old members should confirm that their names are on the voters’ roll.
The admission by the provincial elections officer Innocent Ncube that the turnout in the city is disappointing does not augur well for the opposition parties. If ever the opposition MDC has any hope of ejecting the Zanu PF government from power through the ballot box and retain its dominance in urban centres, then it has to do some serious self-introspection and do massive campaigns to have their members registered to vote.
The opposition must not get carried away by fanciful hopes that they will push President Emmerson Mnangagwa from office before 2023 and concentrate more on voter education. They should take advantage of the current hardships in the country and the Zanu PF government’s failed economic policies to rally people to register to vote in 2023 and deliver a resounding vote for them.
The party has lost a string of by-elections in recent times, so it cannot afford to nap at such a crucial time. It would be no use to try and start mobilising people to register to vote once 2023 arrives. Now is the time to do so. The party should already have started its outreach programmes and ensure that their members take advantage of the ongoing voter registration exercise.
There is a potential that Bulawayo will lose at least three constituencies as a result during the next delimitation exercise as the voter registered population for the city falls far short of the minimum threshold, so it is important for the opposition parties’ registered voters to ensure which ward or constituency they will vote in. In past elections, many voters were disappointed on election days to realise they had gone to the wrong polling stations. This is something that the opposition needs to guard against.