NGOs Launch Voter Outreach Programme

Civic groups and non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe will begin an
outreach program today aimed at encouraging voters in rural areas ahead of
the presidential election run-off.

The groups say their move is in response

to escalated violence in the areas, which they claim intimidates rural

voters from showing up at the polls. The main opposition Movement for

Democratic Change has often accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of using

violence to intimidate its rural partisans. But the government dismisses the

charges and accuses the MDC and civic groups of conniving with Zimbabwe’s

enemies to force a regime change. Gordon Moyo is the executive director of

the Bulawayo project, a non-governmental organization in Zimbabwe’s

commercial capital. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that there is a need to

restore voter confidence in the rural areas.

“The civic organizations together with frontline human rights defenders in

the country. We have rolled out a rural outreach program to go out into the

rural areas, which have been adversely affected by violence and displacement

by ZANU-PF immediately after the March 29 elections. Therefore, the civic

society organizations and front line defenders are saying lets go out to the

rural areas to give confidence to the rural voters to give them information

because there has been a lot of disinformation and misinformation about the

elections run-off,” Moyo pointed out.

He said there is need for the non-governmental groups to encourage rural

voters to take part in the election run-off after the recent escalation of


“We are going out to the rural areas and meeting the key stakeholders there

to show them that those people in the games are not invisible, but they are

ordinary people and they can be challenged when information is available,”

he said.

Moyo calls the move to embark on the rural outreach program well intended to

encourage residents to vote.

“We think we are going to impact very positively to the rural communities by

urging them to move forward, and that this is the last mile and that these

are hard times. And we are saying to them, look, the times are difficult.

But that these are not death sentence. They are birth pains. So we are

telling them to move forward and we believe that the people of Zimbabwe have

had enough of the challenges that they are facing. They have had enough of

dictatorship. They’ve had a enough of hunger and starvation, and they would

like to see their country moving forward,” Moyo noted.

He pledged that their outreach program would enlighten the rural voters

ahead of the run-off.

“We believe that this project is going to impact positively. It is going to

make a difference to the lives of the people. It is going to make a

difference to the elections come June 27,” he said.

Moyo described as shocking accusations leveled by the ruling ZANU-PF party

that the non-governmental organizations are agents of the west, working hard

to force a regime change.

“That is a pathological lie. The civic society organizations and NGO’s in

general in Zimbabwe are on the side of the victimized and not on the side of

the political parties. We are frontline human rights defenders. When people

are hungry, we condemn the policies that make people hungry. When people are

brutalized, we condemn the perpetrators. Whichever side perpetrates violence

is condemned. So, it is the guilty that say the civic society is against

them. It is because they are on the guilty side. They are the ones that are

perpetrating violence and civic organizations are against that,” Moyo

pointed out.

Meanwhile, the United Nations human rights commissioner has reportedly

condemned the violence that has gripped Zimbabwe since its March 29 election

and is calling for a full-scale investigation into the killings and attacks.

Louise Arbour says she is shocked and concerned about the brutal attacks

against political activists that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims

have led to more than 50 deaths.


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