REVELATIONS that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had this year registered a measly 2 000 first-time potential voters is a major cause of concern particularly with the make or break by-elections set for the first quarter of next year.
Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana yesterday took the opportunity to point the blame finger on the opposition for the poor turnout at registration centres.
“So all those campaigns and hashtags from self-appointed social media what, what, only produced 2 000 registrants? That appears like an organic figure anyway. Guys stop hyping your clout. You have very little of it on the ground,” Mangwana tweeted.
This is of course self-serving propaganda by Mangwana that seems to imply that it is the opposition’s duty to mobilise for voter registration, and yet it’s every stakeholder’s responsibility.
It is the duty of every stakeholder which includes the government, the opposition and civic society to ensure that more people register to vote in line with the dictates of a representative democracy.
Government officials should actually be hanging their heads in shame at this worryingly low number of new voter registrants rather than using it as a platform for unproductive political posturing.
A voter registration blitz was supposed to be launched this month, but Zec called it off claiming that it had realised that the target population — the youth had no identity documents which is a damning indictment on government as it is supposed to ensure all citizens have IDs. Voting is a fundamental act of civic participation through which citizens contribute to democracy.
In recent years, statistics on election days have consistently indicated voter apathy among the youth. Young voters have notoriously neglected the importance of voting, yet their voice is key, especially in the coming polls where they are expected to be the game changer. Key issues in every election increasingly relate to the concerns of the youths, employed and unemployed, making it mandatory for the youths to take an interest in political processes.
Elections play a vital role in a representative democracy.
Ultimate authority rests with the people, in this case the youth who make up the majority of Zimbabwe’s population.
Outside the hashtags, it is our considered view that government, political parties and other civic groups must scale up voter mobilisation campaigns to ensure buy-in from the country’s citizens, particularly the youth.