A MASVINGO resident on Monday surprised participants attending a public hearing on the Electoral Amendment Bill when he suggested that only educated people should be allowed to cast votes during presidential elections.
He claimed that uneducated people did not understand politics. The man who is a senior citizen made the suggestion before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Harare West MP Jessie Majome at Nyika district administrator’s offices.
The committee with the help of the Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust is currently collecting input from people on what they would want included in the Electoral Amendment Bill.
Members of the public are allowed to make suggestions freely even if some people might not necessarily agree with other people’s viewpoints.
The senior citizen who did not identify himself said: “Uneducated people like tea boys can be allowed to participate in voting for councillors and MPs because those positions are not as important as the presidency.”
He added that “uneducated” people should not be allowed to cast votes for the presidential election due to its importance.
“It is only educated people with diplomas and degrees who should be allowed to cast presidential votes because they can read newspapers and comprehend political debate.
“Uneducated people cannot vote for a president because their level of understanding and appreciation of politics is very low,” the senior citizen said.
Another resident suggested that political party commissars should not be allowed to work for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) during elections. Other residents suggested the voters’ roll be completely scrapped off and people should be allowed to vote using national IDs from anywhere they wanted.
Youths said there should be online registration and voting facilities so that no one is disenfranchised. Kildred Rachando said all political parties should be given the same chance to campaign by State media during elections.
“We want continuous voter registration and opening up of community radio and (issueing of) TV licences so that the people of Masvingo and other provinces can have radio stations specifically covering issues at their areas,” he said.
Rachando said there should be wide consultation whenever demarcation of constituencies and polling stations was being conducted. A youth, Purpose Mutsambwa, suggested that ZEC commissioners should not be appointed, but chosen through interviews by Parliament.
The youths who attended the public hearing also said there was need for Parliament to have social media network accounts such as Facebook page, WhatsApp and websites, where they could easily make their contributions on Bills.
“We want a clause which allows the youth to contest as candidates for all elections at 18 years of age.
“The Constitution talks of youth participation and if youths were to fully participate in elections it means they should be allowed to contest,” another youth said.
The committee will also conduct public hearings in Mutare and Harare this week.