There is massive apathy among the youth on electoral processes, and analysts say only massive voter education awareness campaigns can reverse the trend.
Youth constitute the majority of eligible voters but a survey in Hwange shows lack of interest in electoral processes in the district.
“I am not even sure if my vote is going to make any difference,” Bekezela Dube, a Hwange youth says.
Dube says he is not interested in becoming a registered voter either.
In the survey, others say lack of information on voter registration is another disincentive.
This comes at a time when the country is heading for March 26 by-elections to fill 105 municipal seats and 28 parliamentary seats. Voter registration is provided in section 17A of the Electoral Act.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently announced dates for mobile voter registration which will run in two phases — February 1-28, and April 11-30, 2022.
Lack of information on voter registration, including pessimism on the outcome of elections has been blamed for the low turnout during voter registration in Matabeleland.
Hwange based Civic Society Organization Vostile Creative Trust director Malvin Daka says there is a need for massive awareness campaigns through CSO collaborations.
“People in such areas (Hwange rural) are not aware of what is happening which is why we are advocating for mobile registration centers in different areas,” Daka adds.
Nkosikhona Dibiti, who is a spokesperson for Ekhaya Vote 2023 initiative bringing more than 30 CSOs from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, says community based initiatives are needed to drive voter education.
“The absence of sustainable community-based initiatives that mobilize citizens particularly youths, first time voters and women to participate in electoral processes has led to widespread voter apathy and lack of confidence in the electoral systems,” says Dibiti.
“This is the elephant in the room; the solution is bringing voter registration closer to the electorate.”
Fidelis Chima, Chairperson of the Greater Whange Resident Trust, says CSOs, including the clergy and other interest groups, should work together in voter education campaign.
“There is also a need for CSOs in Hwange to also accredit with ZEC so that they will be able to carry out voter education,” Chima adds.
According to the Electoral Act, only accredited CSOs are mandated to conduct voter education.
On January 7, ZEC approved 76 CSOs to conduct voter education.
Voter education in Zimbabwe is provided for in the Constitution and the Electoral Act. Section 239 (h) of the Constitution provides for ZEC to conduct and supervise voter education.
Section 40B (1) (b) of the Electoral Act also provides that ZEC must ensure that the voter education provided by others is adequate, accurate, and unbiased.
Furthermore, Section 40B (3) provides that ZEC “may permit any person to assist it in providing voter education.”
However, The Citizen Bulletin has gathered that there is no CSO in Hwange which has been accredited to conduct voter education in the district.
Source: The Citizen Bulletin