What's wrong with voter education?

HARARE - Elections the world over function on the basis of a larger portion of the population registering and participating as voters, making it mandatory for every loyal citizen to encourage undocumented people of suffrage to register for national polls.

After the disputed elections in 2008, Zimbabweans are excited and sitting on edge about the prospects of an election free of intimidation, coercion and unnecessary violence sometime later this year.

When concerned citizens crusade for voters’ registration, authorities should view this as an excellent example of community responsibility by whoever is doing it to ensure every citizen participates in choosing a government of their choice.

Citizens with the welfare and prosperity of their country at heart have an obligation to participate in national polls so as to determine their own destiny.

But involvement only comes after one has registered.

During the first two decades of independence, politicians decried voter apathy, fully aware of the import and impact of that phenomenon. They apparently reasoned that victory achieved in conditions when more eligible voters shunned polling stations than entered polling booths for whatever reason, was all but sham.

Another creed on which poll credibility is benchmarked is what section of the country’s population is able to cast their ballot without undue influence in an election. The greater the portion, the more credible a plebiscite is.

It therefore comes as a shock that police in Bulawayo under the Pisi unit are rallying to harass concerned youths spearheading a campaign to get first time voters to register for the forthcoming polls.

While the effort by the Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe activists to get these and other cynical voters on board is a laudable move, it results in belief that police would seek to throw spanners in these efforts.

Apparently, law enforcers are determined to jump the gun.

They are unwittingly shooting voter registration in the foot.

There is no need, therefore for the police to cause unnecessary anxiety among these good-intentioned activists.

It also becomes extremely difficult to see why the police would have a crow to pluck with youth activists  that have taken it upon themselves to assist in casting the net wide and augmenting government efforts to ensure every eligible voter is registered as their national duty.

All the activists do is mobilise youths and direct them to the Registrar General’s Office to register as voters. In the same vein, they encourage others to inspect the voters’ roll to see if their names are still on the roll ahead of forthcoming elections.

Encouraging youth to participate in polls is one of the best ways of empowering them politically. Voting gives youths — so very often disillusioned by feeling excluded from determining national course of events — that intrinsic feeling of being part and parcel of a national vision and the direction it charts. - Staff Writer

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