Decentralize Voter Registration Centres to Villages

Voter Mobilization Committees (VMCs) established by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe across the country have expressed concern over the centralization of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) voter registration centres in towns and cities.

This came out during feedback meetings with the committees on 13 January 2022.Participants noted that there were gaps in ZEC’s mobilisation drive as in most cases no voter registration centres have been established in rural areas.” Here in Victoria Falls, ZEC closed all its registration centres which makes it difficult for us to mobilize citizens to register to vote. Even when these centres were open, the Commission did not set up any centres in rural areas”, said one participant. Participants further highlighted that the right to vote was coming at a cost for people in rural areas as they have to get transport fares to access registration centres in towns and cities.” The right to vote is coming at a cost for us here in Bulilima West as we have to pay ZAR100 to access registration centres in Plumtree town”, added another participant. It also came out during the feedback meetings that ZEC has closed all registration centres in Victoria Falls town and potential registrants were being referred to Hwange where they have to pay USD$8 in transport fares. No reasons were given for the closure of the registration centres. In Buhera South, ZEC has closed registration centres in Birchenough Bridge Business centre and potential registrants are now being forced to go to Murambinda Business centre where they have to pay USD$20 in transport fares.

As part of resolutions, the meetings resolved that there was need to lobby ZEC on the need to decentralise registration centres to villages and wards. Added to this, the meeting also resolved that there was need for VMCs to partner Community Based Organisations (CBOs) operating in select districts for maximum results. The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe Trust

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