Yesterday Friday the 15th of October 2021, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) launched its informal sector voter education campaign dubbed the Enhanced Informal Sector Voter Mobilisation and Advocacy Initiative (EISeVOMA). The EISeVOMA seeks to enhance informed young informal traders and informal traders living with disabilities’ participation in the upcoming by elections and 2023 harmonized elections in all the major towns and cities in Zimbabwe. The launch of the campaign also coincided with the training of over 25 young people drawn from VISET Leadership Structures known as SOCHAMPs for Harare. The training was conducted in partnership with the Elections Resource Center (ERC).
In delivering his opening remarks, VISET Executive Director Samuel Wadzai indicated that the EISeVOMA will address the challenge of low participation by young informal traders and informal traders with disabilities in governance processes in general, and the on-going voter registration process in particular. He also stressed the point that VISET will work with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and it is anticipated that the EISeVOMA initiative will contribute to the mobilization of youths, marginalized groups and people with disabilities in all the major cities and towns of Zimbabwe to register to vote and ensure that their names are on the voters register during the inspection period.
As the name suggests, the Enhanced Informal Sector Voter Mobilisation and Advocacy Initiative has the twin tasks of educating and mobilizing informal traders in the selected areas to participate in electoral processes, with a specific aim of getting young and disabled informal traders registered for the upcoming by elections and the 2023 harmonised elections. It aims to (1) increase knowledge on electoral processes (voter education) especially on boundary delimitation processes, and (2) increase numbers of young informal traders registering as voters.
During the training session for the SOCHAMPs, Mr Solomon Bobosibunu who was representing the Elections Resource Centre highlighted critical aspects of Voter education such as, Aims of Voter Education, Timing of Voter Education, Methods of Voter Education, Standard Voter Education Messages to mention a few. He highlighted that traditional voter education aims to create of a climate of knowledgeable participation by all potential voters in a forthcoming election. It also seeks to enable potential voters to cast their votes with confidence. These objectives may also be achieved through other interventions, and educators will want to establish programmes that work in conjunction with initiatives that address such issues as voter security, basic voting procedures, accessible voting stations, and lively but nonviolent and least intimidating campaigns on the part of candidates.
He concluded by postulating that, while voter information is certainly the responsibility of the election authority, voter education can easily be viewed as the responsibility of both of the election authority and civil society. A variety of other government agencies may also have some role in informing and educating citizens. The mandate of the election authority or other government agencies may be determined on the law, while civil society organisations may have, as part of their mission, a commitment to voter education and citizen participation. The need to educate people to take part in elections is not at issue. Whether these people are children or adults, there are many educational needs that relate to the conduct of elections. But there are also the needs related to active participation in governance processes at all levels.