CSOs Attack ZEC For Blocking First Time Voters

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

MATEBELELAND-based civil organisations coalescing under the banner of Ekhaya VOTE 2023, have castigated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for depriving new voter registrants the right to vote during the forthcoming by-elections.

Addressing journalists in the resort city of Victoria Falls Thursday, ZEC Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba revealed that first time voters will not be allowed to vote in the impeding by elections.

Chigumba’s declarations has however courted the ire of several stakeholders including Ekhaya VOTE 2023, a consortium of organisations currently mobilising citizens in the region to participate in the forthcoming electoral processes.

To date, the civil organisations claims that they have facilitated the registration of 9 635 first time voters throughout the country, but ZEC disputes the figure.

“As Ekhaya VOTE 2023, we are really concerned   that first time voters will not be casting their votes despite the fact that they have registered to vote. This decision by ZEC will obviously affect the confidence and trust of these debutant voters,” Ekhaya VOTE 2023 spokesperson Nkosikhona Dibiti said in an interview.

Dibiti challenged electoral body to be transparent and accountable to whatever actions or decisions it takes.

“So, we have any issue with different perceptions around the suppressed numbers of registered voters and if you link that to the aspect of names not showing in the voters roll you get concerned. ZEC ‘s programmes should be consistent with the Constitution and the laws of the country. The right to vote is fundamental and cannot be taken away by anyone,” Dibiti said.

Dibiti maintained that ZEC should have proceeded with its earlier plans to conduct mobile voter registrations ahead of the March by-elections.

“Also secondly, we have the issue of the by- elections. If voter registration had been held in December right now, we could have more of first-time voters voting in their respective wards and constituencies in the elections.

“The other thing is that mobile voter education is also long over-due. Most African countries have been conducting their elections even during the height of COVID -19. There was no need to suspend these critical components of democratic processes,” added Dibiti.