Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) has conducted its first training on the Vendors Go Vote Initiative (VGVI), targeting the vending communities in Gweru Urban House of Assembly Constituency. The VGVI campaign seeks to enhance informed participation of vendors in electoral processes in 2018. This campaign was designed to include vendors in electoral processes as they are often left out and yet they contribute a huge percentage of the country’s population. This intervention seeks to disseminate information to key populations including women and youths, the disabled and the so called “aliens” who have an opportunity to vote for the first time if enough information is availed to them on time.
The training was led by VISET Secretariat, and was attended by over 121 vendors drawn from VISET’S SOCHAMPs Structures. Representatives from other civic society organizations based in Gweru such as Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA), Gweru Residents Association (GRA), Street Wise Traders Association (SWITA), Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) attended the event in solidarity. The main theme of the training was to encourage citizens to ‘Go out and Vote’ under the banner of the #GoZim Campaign using the hush tag #WeVoteWeSecure. VISET already conducted voter education programming through its SOCHAMPS network during the BVR blitz and this project continues to build upon that progress. Among other things, participants raised issues such as people being registered at polling stations which they don’t belong and therefore being forced to vote for candidates who had no development to the constituencies they reside in. Further, the problem of elderly people travelling long distances to access a polling station, this scenario is most prevalent in the rural areas and participants urged VISET to take the lead in encouraging the ZEC and other stakeholders to address this morass in future elections.
The training intervention also covered the following agenda items:
- The notion of democracy.
- The notion of citizen participation on the voting day.
- What is needed on the voting day for example National ID, Valid Passport and a voter’s slip.
- The role of social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter) during an election.
- The things which are not allowed at a polling station for example party regalia and party posters.
- Citizen reporting and monitoring.
- The Dos and Dont’s on the Election Day.
- Which people are allowed to be in a polling station
VISET seeks to build on its experience from its Issue-Based Voter Education and Mobilization (IBVA) program that ended in April 2018. The VGVI will take the lessons learned and best practices from this project to leverage VISET’s strength as a community mobilizer. Because vendors interact with customers daily, they are able to serve as a conduit of information dissemination and knowledge sharing. By utilizing VISET’s extensive vendor networks and leadership structures (including the SOCHAMPS), the project will be able to access hard to reach and marginalized groups of vendors such as youth, women, and persons with disabilities. VISET will utilize these existing structures and hold workshops to equip vendors with tools to engage and mobilize voters, including through the #GoZim Campaign platforms. Additionally, VISET will foster conversation and education through vendor-to-vendor engagement sessions.
Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)