The Rock Da Vote’ campaign is radically different from previous efforts by civic education non-governmental organizations and is aimed to address chronic voter under-registration amongst young Zimbabweans.
The new initiative aims to sign up the estimated 1million youths missing from the electoral roll – over half of them born frees or young voters born after the advent of majority rule in 1980 – in time to vote in the March harmonized vote.
The Rock Da Vote campaign is complementing efforts by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), an independent poll monitoring group that is also spearheading voter awareness, and is being driven by a combination of youthful artists, synonymous with a new genre of music called urban grooves. This genre is widely popular with lots of youths here and adults alike.
At Tshovani Stadium in Chiredzi last week, urban groove rappers Stunner, Sniper and Extra Large, were joined by dozens of Harare ‘s hippest young grime stars – and over a hundred extras – at the concert. Attendance at the concert was boosted by raunchy dancer, Sandra Ndebele, a known crowd-puller owing to her sexually provocative dances on stage. Â
With slogans such as Vote or Die, 10 Hugs for Registered Voters, Kisses for Registered Voters, the campaign has drawn attention of hundreds of youths missing from the electoral roll.
A glitzy campaign launch, coordinated by Alternative Civic and Voter Education Campaign, was held at the Harare Gardens last month and involved a bus-stop poster campaign and fliers in an intense publicity drive. Since then, the campaign has been backed up by an on-street voter drive led by the musicians, with registration awareness teams targeting youths countrywide.
So far the campaign has been to Karoi, Harare, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Chiredzi and is set to cover the whole country in time for the poll.
Thabani Moyo, a coordinator for the campaign, who is also spokesman for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said the musical campaign was targeted at the youth to take an initiative to participate in the electoral and political process through voting.
The Coalition aims at employing the youthful genre of dance and music to communicate effectively to the youth on their rights to be a part of national processes which affect their lives, he said. This is a unique partnership. We want to ensure the campaign is real and resonates on the street to inspire and energise young Zimbabweans to have a political voice.
The poor ghettos – which all have high youth populations – have some of the worst voter sign-up rates with between 23 percent and 33 percent of their entire populations missing from the register.
The scant so-called voter registration campaigns, such as the one the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission claims to be carrying right now, has attracted sharp criticism from activists for its’ youth-blind approach.
A recent report by ZESN of the just-ended mop-up mobile voter registration states that posters advertising the ZEC were barely seen in public areas.
The Rock Da Vote campaign
By Chief Reporter
HARARE - Urban grooves musicians are fronting-up a new campaign to empower millions of apathetic young Zimbabweans - apparently reluctant to register to vote - to cast their ballot next March.