Tokenism Increased Voter registration in Mwenezi..?

Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) Expressed grave concern over the lack of voter education and use of government food aid in mobilizing villagers to register to voter ahead of the April 8 by –election. Mwenezi East Villagers expresses that villagers were registering after being promised government food aid and or other material things by political parties. The villagers reported that, Zanu PF donations were given to the party faithful members who have registered to vote.

Zanu PF candidate for Mwenezi East by-election Mr Joosbi Omar

The villagers stated that opposition parties-Free Zimbabwe congress and National Constitutional Assembly have employed the same strategy by giving party T-shirts to those registered voters promising to vote for them. Tinaye shoko of Chingani Area ward 5 states that, all the contesting political parties were mobilizing people to register to vote, if one comes with the proof that s/he has registered was getting material benefit from the party one supports. However, another analytical lenses point out that many people went to register to vote not because they wanted the government food aid some were intimidated and went to register out of fear. Working closely with Chiefs, Headmen and Village Heads, war vets addressed meetings issuing threats against the perceived political opponents and mobilized everyone to register to vote and vote for ZANU-PF.

The Voter registration survey conducted by COTRAD using statistics from Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) revealed that, about 48,258 voters have been registered to vote on the Mwenezi by-election. The survey shows 26 735 increase in registered voters from the previous 2013 harmonised election with 21 523 who have registered to vote in Constituency. However, the voter turnout for the by-election was 20,220 including rejected votes representing 41.9% of the total registered voters in the constituency. The by-election results shows that Zanu PF Candidate Mr Joosbi Omar received 18 700 votes, NCA welcome Masuku 482 votes, Free Zimbabwe Congress Turner Mhango 380 votes and 652 rejected votes. The majority of voters who turned out were middle aged and elderly people mostly women whilst the youth were very few.

COTRAD urges the Zimbabwe Election Commission to ensure the fulfilment of the Electoral acts and constitutional provisions. The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission must ensure that the elections are free from violence and other electoral malpractices. It is shrined in the constitution on section 155 that, The State must take all appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to ensure that all eligible citizens, that is to say the citizens qualified under the fourth Schedule, are registered as voters. COTRAD also urged ZEC to review Mwenezi East constituency existing electoral boundaries and its population to ensure the fulfilment of section 161 of the constitution. COTRAD observed that 28 038 registered voters did not cast their ballot on the voting day which shows that there is need to scale up voter education in Mwenezi district and some remote areas in Masvingo province like Chiredzi.

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