BVENGE shopping centre, down in Mt. Darwin area in Mashonaland Central province of Zimbabwe, can be reached after labouring in the sweltering heat through a gravel road lined with wilting crops of maize and tobacco.
Like many acts of resilience and determination exhibited by civil society since September 2017, the organisations visited Bvenge on Friday less than two weeks before the closure of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) mobile mop-up exercise.
The purpose of the visit was to educate people about the BVR process and urge people in the rural area to register to vote ahead of the mid-year elections.
The campaign to mobilise people to register as voters started in September and has, four months later, criss-crossed many parts of the country, leaving a remarkable footprint.
As a result, the feat of registering over 5 million people by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) cannot be fully explained without the efforts of civil society in training and engaging voter mobilisers, advertising in mainstream media and social media, and organising citizen engagement platforms, even in barely accessible remote areas.
When the civil society team finally arrived at 10:30 am after hours of travel for the roadshow organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in collaboration with the ZEC, they were met with a boisterous crowd of all ages at the township located near Tsengurwe Primary school.
ZEC had already set up a voter registration centre at the site, which has been one of the improvements in the citizen engagement platforms made since the voter registration mobilisation started last year.
With an energetic team of dancers and disc jockeys, who after many weeks of engaging communities, have now grown accustomed to the task, the piping heat of January did not limit from a spirited engagement between voter educators and the rural people at Bvenge.
On offer as prizes to be won during quiz sessions about voter registration were hats, bottles of cooking oil, packets of salt and packets of sugar.
Later in the day, the civil society visitors left for another roadshow at Mt. Darwin centre, which was yet another big success.
As the BVR mobile mop-up exercise ends in 10 days, civil society has harvested lessons helpful in the next hurdle, when it urges people to vote in the 2018 elections as it attempts to fight the voter apathy witnessed in past years.