“The electorate did not get any education on the electoral processes as a deliberate and calculated move to make the whole election process opaque,” said Mwonzora.
Last week, the ZEC Chairperson Justice, Rita Makarau, revealed that on July 31, a total of 511,791 voters had been assisted to vote or turned away. A statement released by the MDC alleges that the number of assisted voters and those turned away was higher than statistics released by the ZEC.
According to the July 2013, Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism pre- election report, citizens can be victims of false information in the absence of comprehensive and extensive voter education exercises.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission failed to deploy adequate numbers of voter educators. The deployment of only two voter educators per ward fell far short of the required personnel,” read the report. “Considering the introduction of a limited system of proportional representation, voter education has assumed an increased importance for the election.”
Political analyst, Charity Manyeruke, said voter education should not be the sole responsibility of the ZEC.
“Voter education involves a lot of institutions such as political parties, the media and civil society organisations,” she said. “All these players have different agendas. The ZEC for example could be educating voters on where and how to vote and should clarify voting day processes.”
According to a report by a local think- tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, entitled ‘Electoral Battleground: Voters’ Roll Rigmarole’, preventing the free flow of information can be used as a tool to fuel the manipulation of the electorate.
“Tight restrictions on the flow of information severely distort the electoral process. It affects who participates, how they do it and the election outcome,” read the report.
Analysts said failure by the ZEC to carry out a comprehensive voter education exercise had a negative impact on the voting process.
A pre election report released by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights stated that the ZEC displayed a sense of unwillingness to accept assistance in the process of voter education, despite the substantive changes to the electoral system.
“The confusion that came because of the fast tracked election date affected the voter education process,” read the report.Post published in: News