Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Bulawayo have raised concern over voter apathy in the city, noting that a few people are showing enthusiasm in the registration process. The province has only one registration office situated in Famona where citizens can register as voters.
In a stakeholders meeting held Friday, members of CSOs engaged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) seeking to come up with strategies on how best to lure people into registering to vote. Due to the low voter registration numbers, Bulawayo risks losing at least three or more constituencies when the delimitation process is exercised. The process is set to take place in 2022 after the population census.
ZEC district elections officer, Sithembiso Khuphe said a lot of work has to be done to encourage Bulawayo residents to register. “Bulawayo has only 258 567 registered voters while Mashonaland East Province has 900 728 registered voters. If this issue is not resolved Bulawayo will lose some of its constituencies while other provinces gain more. This means when resources get allocated Bulawayo will automatically get less than other areas. It is important therefore for citizens to come forward and register to vote,” Khuphe said.
ZEC Voter Education Officer Silas Silaigwana reiterated that there is a need to encourage the youth to register to vote, noting that the electoral processes have a direct effect on their future.
One participant, Blondie Ndebele suggested that CSOs should work with residents and identify influential people within communities who will mobilise people and encourage them to register to vote. “CSOs could work with influential members of societies who have access to address people at public gatherings such as funerals, school meetings or community meetings. That way they can utilise such opportunities to encourage other residents to get registered to vote.”
Another participant noted that in the long run there is a need to advocate for policies and legal frameworks that provide for online registration platforms in order to reach a wider audience. Other participants said there could be the use of influencers where CSOs can gather popular artists to perform for people for free on condition they are registered to vote.
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology