Voter education vital for polls

HARARE - News that just over two million Zimbabweans out of an estimated six million people voted in the just-ended referendum shows that a lot of work needs to be done in terms of voter education ahead of general elections expected this year.

With Zec having printed 12 million ballot papers — possibly in anticipation of a large turnout –— this is a major embarrassment for those conducting the polls especially considering that everyone over the  age of 18 was allowed to vote.

The referendum’s voter apathy is a wake-up call to Zec and political parties especially the big ones, Zanu PF and MDC.

The voting pattern also showed that Zimbabweans are now wiser and will not be force-marched into
voting for something they are not sure of.

The low turnout shows there was little or no voter education at all and from interviews carried out by our reporters throughout the country, voters were ignorant of the referendum’s importance and significance.

Gone are the days when Zimbabweans would be taken for granted and the sooner political leaders wake up to smell the coffee, the better.

It is time government recognises the importance of civic organisations and trust them to conduct education. Civic organisations have the resources to conduct voter education and therefore should be entrusted to do so.

Government must as a matter of urgency conduct door to door voter registration exercises so that the majority will have a chance to choose our next national leaders.

From the interviews with voters, it is evident most eligible voters have not even registered to vote with some who have just turned 18 saying they do not even have national identity cards.

 A robust campaign to register voters should commence throughout the country in earnest so as to serve the next vote pencilled for July.

 Mobile registration trucks should be mobilised so that voter registration is conducted even in the remotest of areas.

It has been five years since the last general elections, and those who were 13 years old then are now eligible to vote.

But the question is; are they registered? Have they been educated enough? The answer is no.

 Political parties have to play their part in educating their supporters.

They should make a roll-out plan and convince their supporters so they register as voters, otherwise they lose out in the July vote.

 All political parties are chasing the youth vote and we have millions of young people, who need to be convinced that their vote will shape their destinies.

 They need to convince these youths and help them with registration and acquiring national identification cards. - Staff Writer

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