Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) conducted a political education meeting for CCDZ Ward Team leaders in Murehwa yesterday. The initiative comes as Zimbabwe heads towards the 2018 elections, according to the Zimbabwe Election Commission the elections are expected between July and August 2018.
The meeting was part of efforts to provide adequate correct information to citizens in closed communities on the Biometric Voter Registration and actual voting. The meeting was held at Murehwa Culture Centre and is the seond phase of the Voter Registration Campaign launched by the two organisation in Kadoma November in 2017.
Speaking at the meeting, CCDZ Advocacy Officer, George Makoni said; “as we heard towards the elections, we have received numerous calls from this area to address misinformation and intimidation emanating from political parties and local leadership. Our thrust today is respond to the misinformation and prepare you adequately as you mobilize citizens to participate in the pending electoral process.”
The meeting learnt that traditional leaders have demanding that citizens submit serial numbers of their voter registration slips despite a warning from ZEC that such actions are illegal.
Speaking at the meeting CiZC acting Director, Thulani Mswelanto told participants that on 24 January 2018, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) urged citizens to report cases of people moving around collecting registration slips serial numbers from registered voters and warned that those involved were violating the Electoral Act and Section 156 (c) of the constitution.
The meeting also provided participants with ZEC contact details were where they could report such cases as well as support structures created by CCDZ.
Chief among concerns raised at the meeting were incidences of violence and intimidation which citizens feared will deter would-be voters from freely choosing leaders of their choice. One participant attending the meeting said:
“We have been told that these serial numbers will be used to trace whom we vote for and we live in fear that if we freely express our preferences, we will face reprisal. Some people were banished while other were killed in Murehwa North during the 2008 elections. We are also constantly told that the army will be in charge of these elections and we know what they have done in the neighboring constituency.”
Responding to questions at the meeting, Mswelanto informed participants that it is the duty of every citizen to monitor the election environment and report any incidences of human rights violations to law enforcement agents and the support structures established by CCDZ.
“We need to build solid evidence where human rights violations take place, report such cases with law enforcement agents, ZEC and make use of the CCDZ platforms that we have created. We should not ignore violations, lets report even the slightest form of violation and gather adequate information to build our cases.”
Participants were also given a template on how to build solid cases of violations with instructions on how to report such cases.
In recent weeks CSOs have been raising concerns around the national identity documents registration process. The process seems to be divorced from the ongoing voter registration exercise, a situation that will leave most citizens without national identity documents and unregistered.
At the end of the meeting citizens were given information packs that included simplified voter education information written in vernacular languages and information on the location of registration centres as well as the voter registration procedures. CCDZ Community Action Teams were also tasked with mobilizing their communities to register to vote, monitoring the voter registration process [most of them are already accredited with ZEC] and to report any irregularities in the BVR exercise.
Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition