Civic society partners musicians

In a bid to reach wider and diverse audiences, civic society organisations have in recent years devised ways in which they romp in popular musicians during their outreach programmes.

The initiative has seen musicians entertaining multitudes of people while civic organisations convey targeted messages in between performances.

Apart from performances, the musicians have also been engaged to produce campaign jingles while others appear on adverts.

Civic organisations like Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), Zimbabwe Human Rights (ZimRights) and Election Resource Centre (Erc) have been working with several musicians from Winky D, Nicholas Zakaria, Leonard Zhakata, Killer T, Tocky Vibes, Soul Jah Love, ExQ to Sandra Ndebele among others.

As part of its civic and voter education strategy for the 2018 election in a bid to mobilise and educate the electorate Zesn collaborated with musicians, artists and comedians under the #GetOutToRegister and #GetOutToVote campaigns. 

Zesn executive director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said this strategy was successful in reaching out to their main target groups especially the youths whose participation in previous elections was low.

“In November of 2017 we collaborated with popular Dance Hall musician Winky D to come up with a jingle to mobilise people to register as voters under the Biometric Voter Registration system. This collaboration was a huge success with the jingle widely aired on all major radio stations, social media and on national television. We did an additional jingle with Leonard Zhakata to cater for the mature electorate. 

“For the July 30 election, under the #GetOutTheVote campaign we joined hands with XQ for another jingle which was also widely aired on local TV and radio stations as well as on social media,” said Chipfunde-Vava.

She added that voter mobilisation road shows were a major part of their campaigns where they roped in artists and popular comedians to provide entertainment while educating the electorate on their civil and political rights.  

“The road shows were conducted in collaboration with other civic society organisations across Zimbabwe and proved popular with the electorate given the calibre of musicians and comedians we worked with under this project.

“Zesn held its final #GetOutTheVote roadshow in Caledonia with artistes like Killer T, Tocky Vibes, Skigo and Wasu dance Group performing to a crowd of over 8,000 people,” said Chipfunde-Vava.

On the other hand, Erc with other Electoral Stakeholders in 2018 embarked on a voter registration (REEZ Tiri Tese) and vote in peace (Get Out and Vote) awareness campaigns throughout Zimbabwe. 

Erc and ZimRights also collaborated on part of the national campaign for increased participation in the registration process during the voter registration and voter inspections periods.

The campaigns involved the use accomplished musicians and recording artists in Zimbabwe namely; Winky D, Souljah Love, ExQ, Killer T, Nicholas Zacharia, Sandra Ndebele and the use of popular culture through road shows, with the aim of raising awareness on the Zimbabwe Harmonised elections which were slated for 30 July 2018. 

As for the national campaign for peace project during the final stages of the voter registration and voter inspections periods Erc in collaboration with Heal Zimbabwe coordinated outreaches in Bulawayo headlined by Winky D, Iyasa and Skhobokhobo. 

The event further gave citizens a platform to address their concerns regards the dangers to the electoral environment posed in Bulawayo. The event in Cowdry Park, Bulawayo was largely successful and managed to pull a crowd of over 6 000 people.

Part of the Get Out and Vote campaign was launched to increase participation in the voting process and advocating for a peaceful electoral environment. The event in Epworth which was graced by popular musicians was highly successful with at least 10 000 people showing up for the event, of which, over 1 000 registered to vote on the day. 

ERC director Tawanda Chimhini said the campaigns were aimed at ensuring the participation of youth in electoral processes as they contributed to over 40 percent of the potential registrants and total registered voters.

“Therefore, during the registration phases, in an attempt to complement the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) information and voter mobilisation efforts, REEZ Tiri Tese was rolled out. 

The Erc in conjunction with the Zec would ensure mobile registration kits were available at all the venues, to award people who had comes to witness the event an opportunity to register for the elections. 

“At select events the music concerts were aimed at celebrating those youths who had registered to vote while encouraging those who had not, to do same therefore attendance was only through a voter registration slip confirming one’s registration,” said Chimhini.

He added that following the voters’ roll inspection period, the Get Out and Vote campaign was launched to increase participation in the voting process.

He said Erc’s efforts were supported by a partnership with local radio station ZiFM Stereo, engagement of citizens through social media, theatre and distribution of voter information materials including t-shirts, caps, flyers and posters, among other paraphernalia. “Additionally, the Erc in striving to make the event ‘national’ would live-stream on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter and broadcast on ZiFM in order to extend the reach of the campaign and galvanize participation.”

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