ZimRights, ERC intensify voter mobilisation

HARARE - Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and several civic organisations, drew thousands of people as they launched a national campaign of roadshows to urge people to register as voters.

The launch was held at Chigovanyika Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza on Saturday, October 14.

The organisations have produced voter education material such as T-shirts, caps and fliers as well as enlisted the services of 10 branded lorries that will be used in the outreach to the provinces, which commences on October 16.

Several artists and entertainment acts have been lined up for the roadshows which are set to light up many parts of the country, including remote areas starved of information.

Civil society organisations are leaving little to chance as they work to ensure that Zimbabweans turn out in large numbers to register to vote ahead of the 2018 elections.

Yesterday, ZimRights staff distributed voter education brochures to motorists and public transport commuters during the rush hour at the traffic lights at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue — Harare’s busiest road — and Rotten row.

The mobile voter education and mobilisation event on Saturday was graced by dancehall artistes, Soul Musaka, also known as Soul Jah Love, Guspy Warrior, and Mombokadzi dance group.

The event happened under ZimRights’ #10x10 campaign which encourages each person to mobilise 10 others to register and the ERC’s #RegisterElectEngage campaign, which urges citizens to participate in the entire electoral cycle.

At the venue, prospective registrants were taught about the biometric voter registration (BVR), the requirements needed for one to register to vote, and those wanting proof of residence through the affidavits were assisted by commissioners of oaths at the civil society booth.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) voter educators with their identification bibs provided voter education to the bumper crowd of people gathered, who represented all age groups and social strata.

Near to the venue of the roadshow was a Zec biometric blitz voter registration centre, where many people flocked to register.

The programme was also aired live on radio, giving thousands of people, who could not attend the event, a chance to benefit from the voter education and mobilisation.

The campaign will see the deployment of 10 huge branded trucks and mobile roadshow teams to the different provinces.

The trucks branded with the message, “We register, We vote, We influence Tese/Sonke” will be used in public education activities that will cover many parts of the country.

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said: “The mobile roadshows form part of the broader joint ERC and ZimRights initiative to raise interest in the current BVR process by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and encourage citizens to vote in the 2018 harmonised elections.

“Informational material such as T-shirts, caps, berrets, bandanas and fliers will be distributed.

“The initiative will also educate potential eligible registrants on key elements of voter registration as the civic groups compliment work already being done by Zec’s voter education teams,’ said Machisa.

He added that since the roadshow teams will include accredited observers, the mobilisation and public education campaign will also serve as a mobile BVR observation process countrywide.

In a related development, ZimRights in collaboration with Berina Arts and Youth Alliance for Democracy (YAD) conducted a training of 49 BVR monitors and voter registration mobilisers of which 26 were women in Kadoma on  October 10.

The majority of the trainees, 45 participants were youth, who were encouraged to be drivers of voter registration mobilisation under the #10x10 campaign where they reside.

The training brought close to five hundred the monitors and voter registration mobilisers ZimRights and ERC have trained across the country.

The training taught issues to do with human rights and outlined the voter registration process, what citizens need to register, where and when the process will take place and what should transpire

“The ERC in partnership with ZimRights is assessing the ongoing voter registration process as part of efforts to contribute towards improvement in the conduct of electoral processes in the country.

“The registration blitz is separated into four phases, each phase running for 16 days each, whilse the whole registration blitz shall last 72 days,” said Machisa.

ERC and ZimRights deployed monitors in Zimbabwe's 63 districts observing the legislative, administrative and environment surrounding the voter registration process.

Further, the organisations established a call centre aimed at soliciting feedback from citizens across the country whilst also disseminating election related information as and when requested. The two organizations seek to mobilise for citizen participation and provide oversight to ensure compliance of the voter registration process with voter registration principles that include inclusiveness, comprehensiveness, transparency, credibility and an informed public. 



. . . as volunteer lawyers act as commissioners of oaths

ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), have started to mobilise volunteer lawyers, who are deployed at various centres to assist potential registrants, who are in need of commissioners of oaths to sign their VR.9 forms for them to register to vote.

The two organisations act on the alerts that they receive from citizens through a call centre they established recently.

The ERC executive director, Tawanda Chimhini, said the two organisations through the call centers  receive a daily average of 266 messages on Twitter, 25 calls a day, 85 WhatsApp messages and 43 text messages.

Chimhini said voter registration exercise should be comprehensive and accessible.

“Accessibility of the process must not be limited,” said Chimhini adding that “Zec must allocate commissioners of oaths at some registration centres to assist the potential registrants.”

Human Rights lawyer, Jacob Mafume, who was deployed at the Remembrance district centre in Mbare, appealed to other lawyers to assist to help citizens register to vote.

“We need all hands on deck, a simple thing like a commissioner can make this whole process unworkable,” Mafume said adding “We either drop the need for a commissioner to prove proof of residence and simply make it an offence to provide false information.”

Mafume vowed to assist whenever there is need.

“But I and other lawyers stand ready to assist all and sundry to allow them to register,” Mafume said.

Since the commencement of the ongoing biometric voter registration (BVR) process in September a number of challenges have emerged thwarting a smooth registration of potential registrants chief among them the shortage of VR.1 and VR.9 forms and the shortage of commissioner of oaths at some registration centres.

Another lawyer, Simon Chabuka of the Magaya/Mandizvidza Legal Practitioners, on Wednesday assisted 40 potential registrants at Tangenhamo Primary School.

“Today I was here in Chitungwiza assisting citizens by signing their VR.9 forms.  At times people end up going back home without registering to vote. Zec should avail commissioners of oaths at centres,” Chabuka said.

For the past two weeks ERC and ZimRights have been receiving an average of 22 calls a day with people appealing for assistance especially on the issue of commissioner of oaths and the shortage of VR.1 and VR.9 forms and other isolated cases of villagers complaining of village heads refusing to stamp proof of residence letters while some reported being asked to pay for the service.

The two organisations will this Saturday launch a national voter registration campaign in Chitungwiza at Chigovanyika shops in an effort to mobilise citizens to register to vote.

In an effort to provide modern and transparent voter registration system, Zec proposed the introduction of biometric voter registration (BVR) system to be used during the general elections pencilled for 2018. The BVR systems are part of the measures that are being taken to ensure fair and credible elections in a country with a history of disputed elections.

The ERC insisted on the relaxation of proof of residence requirements as it impedes accessibility of voter registration by potential registrants.

Comments (1)

apa zanu ine vakatoregister mdc mai nhiya ikubanker nekurwa kusina humboho kwemunewspaper

g40 - 17 October 2017

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