By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it appreciates and recognises the role of civil society organisations in voter education awareness campaigns.
Several activists have been arrested recently while conducting peaceful voter registration campaigns in the country.
Police in October arrested several MDC Alliance youths in Chitungwiza while scores of the party youths were also recently arrested in Mabvuku, Harare for conducting voter registration campaigns.
Speaking during the launch of the EkhayaVOTE 2023 campaign in Bulawayo, ZEC district elections officer Sithembiso Khupe stated that voter registration campaign is not a crime.
“What people should know is that registration to vote is not politics. We are encouraging people to register to vote. That is your responsibility where you must make decisions for yourself, for your family and decisions for the country,” Khupe said.
She commended Bulawayo based civil organisations for launching the Ekhaya vote campaign which seeks to mobilise citizens in the Matabeleland region to participate in the forthcoming electoral processes.
“So as ZEC, we are encouraging and appealing to you to help and assist explaining to the people why it is necessary to register to vote so that they do not believe that they are doing it for someone else. They are doing it for themselves,”
“So, what we are currently doing now and what we appreciate you doing now is voter registration and we are preparing for delimitation. Our delimitation programme is going to start next year after census. It is an exercise that run after 10 years, so preparations for delimitation we are encouraging people to go and register to vote,” she said in reference to the EkhayaVote campaign.
Khupe however warned that Bulawayo is likely to lose three constituencies and more council wards if people do not register to vote.
“What happens if your figures are less than a constituency? I think Bulawayo has got 257 000 (registered voters) so we divide that by 27 000 on average and after dividing 257 000 you will know how many constituencies we are expecting in Bulawayo. It is about nine constituencies. Currently already we have only 12 constituencies and if we lose again the other constituencies you can see the impact in the representation in parliament. The same will happen to our wards,” warned Khupe.
She applauded the civil organization’s voter registration campaigns saying the initiatives were bearing fruits.
“I am pleased that this week and last week we saw quite a number of people turning out to our offices for registration. It shows that your advocacy is working,” she said.