Comment: Not the time to be apathetic

THE 30-day mandatory mobile voter registration exercise got underway yesterday amid hopes that the authorities will get it right this time after a chaotic attempt to update the voters’ roll last month.

Southern Eye comment

Last month, the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office embarked on a voter registration programme that was dismissed as a joke by various stakeholders including the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Only 200 000 people were registered as first-time voters countrywide despite evidence that thousands more were eager to have their names on the roll for them to participate in the forthcoming elections.

Some of the reasons why the exercise was not effective were that the progamme was poorly advertised, the mobile registration teams were too few and many people could not produce proof of residence.

Cabinet resolved that the requirement for proof of residence must be waived off on condition that those affected complete an affidavit form, signed by a commissioner of oaths, in which they would declare their personal details.

The directive was largely ignored and many people who wanted to register could not do so, especially in rural areas.

It is our hope that the confusion has been cleared so that aspiring voters are not frustrated again.

The new Constitution also gives Zimbabweans disenfranchised by the old Charter on account that they were “aliens”, the right to vote.

This alone makes the ongoing voter registration exercise an important undertaking that must be taken seriously by the RG’s Office and other relevant institutions.

According to ZEC, mobile voter registration centres besides registering voters, will also undertake transfers of registration, inspection of the voters’ roll, issuing of national identity cards and birth certificates to people of voting age and changing of citizenship status of “aliens”.

Zimbabwean citizens above 18 can register to vote as long as they can prove that they are residents of a particular area as the next elections will be ward-based.

Therefore, we urge all elgible voters to take advantage of this opportunity to check if their names are still listed on the voters’ roll and those who have never registered to do so.

It is of no use complaining that our political leaders are not saving us well as long as we don’t participate in important national processes such as voting.

Apathy will only ensure that those who don’t deserve our votes rule by default because they would have won an election.

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