Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Matabeleland region have embarked on a voter registration campaign aimed at mobilising more citizens to register to vote. The campaign, termed EkhayaVote2023, is a coalition of over 25 CSOs operating from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South provinces.
Speaking at the launch on Friday, Director and Founder of Women’s Institute for Leadership Development Trust (WILD) Samukeliso Khumalo said the initiative was established to create a coordinated effort towards encouraging citizens to register to vote.
“Through this coalition, we are guaranteed of having a diverse and inclusive election programming in the Matabeleland region. With regards to the composition of the member organisations, the focus groups range from women, youth, people living with disabilities, residents associations, informal traders, local government structures, media and ICT,” Khumalo said.
“Our consortium seeks to embark on massive voter education campaigns, increase election awareness, grassroots mobilisation, enhance civic participation and creation of favorable environment prior to, during and post the 2023 elections.”
ZEC district elections officer, Sithembiso Khuphe, commended the efforts being made by CSOs, noting that a lot of work has to be done to encourage citizens to register to vote. She said Bulawayo has very few registered voters as compared to other provinces and if the statistics do not improve before the delimitation process, a number of constituencies will be lost.
“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.
“Efforts by CSOs have been quite visible of late. We have had an increased turnout of people coming to register for the first time. We implore you to keep on pushing, mobilise people at public gatherings, be it funerals or churches. The numbers must increase.”
Ward 6 Councillor Tawanda Ruzive reiterated on the importance of the work being done by CSOs. He said voter apathy has a direct impact resources given to constituencies which in turn affects service delivery.
“The work being done by CSOs is very important. When the city budgets, it budgets for at least 2 million people but it is disheartening to learn that there are less people who are actually registered to vote. It is such situations that limit the amount of resources we get from the central government to improve service delivery,” he said.
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology