BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
CIVIC groups have urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to be open on the role of stakeholders accredited to undertake voter education following complaints that security agents were disrupting their work.
Project Vote263 director Youngerson Matete and chairperson Allan Chipoyi as well as other members of the group were recently detained for conducting voter education.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director Michael Ndiweni who is also a member of the Ekhaya Vote campaign said police, and other law enforcement agents were frustrating their voter education campaigns.
“We have a challenge where the police demand proof that we are registered to conduct voter education. There is that suspicion that civic groups are not permitted to conduct voter education which is unfortunate,” Ndiweni said last week.
“There is a need for more communication on those that have been authorised to carry voter education so that they are not harassed.”
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) programmes coordinator Ellen Dingani said civic groups were also facing resource constraints.
“The challenge is the issue of resources. We need more resources so that we can go to every constituency that is conducting elections,” said Dingani.
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Civic groups that are not accredited with Zec are no longer allowed to conduct voter education. In a related case, civic groups said the March by-elections will provide a test case on whether the country is ready to hold credible elections.
They made the remarks during a virtual meeting held on Wednesday held under the theme: ‘Implications of the untimely closure of the Voters Roll.’
“There are three perceptions that are out there. The first one is that the Zec is trying to close space and suppress the registration of voters in the country.
“The suspension of the by elections last year was a direct result of Zec to reduce the number of people who vote,” Rodrick Fayayo, a member of the Ekhaya Vote initiative said.
Constantine Mpofu added: “Zec is obligated to register people and actually make it easier for people to do so, so it is absurd and ridiculous for it to position themselves as an institution that celebrates the few people who have registered.”
Zec has said a voter registration blitz will be held in February and April ahead of the delimitation exercise – the redrawing of electoral boundaries for the 2023 elections.