By Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it is planning to introduce voter education as a course in University and Colleges as part of efforts to encourage youths participate in elections.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security,. ZEC chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana says the commission is already engaging the institutions in order to come up with the best approach.
He said the parties would sign memoranda of understanding once agreements are concluded.
“This linkage will see voter education being infused into current curriculum of tertiary institutions through incorporation of new academic programme or incorporating into existing approved programmes,” he said.
The initiative is part of ZEC’s catch them young thrust and will see the electoral body training lecturers and provide human and material resources where required.
The catch them young initiative is also meant to dissuade youths from engaging in undesirable acts like political violence.
Silaigwana also told the Committee that ZEC now had stand-alone departments on voter education and research and evaluation to ensure that the body fulfils its constitutional mandate
Silaigwana said ZEC had come up with a programme to target rural women and marginalised communities in the ongoing voter education exercise.
While the electoral body has been carrying out virtual and radio education exercises these are not accessed by some communities especially women.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted ZEC’s activities due to restrictions on numbers at gatherings which has negatively affected voter education.
Last year Government suspended the holding of by-elections to fill vacant seats due to the pandemic.
The suspension has now been lifted and parties have begun preparations for the holding of the by-elections.
Silaigwana decisions on whether to or not hold by-elections would be dependent on advice they get from medical on the pandemic.