GWERU: Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Gweru have aired different feelings over the voter registration process which has been underway as Zimbabwe braces for an election to be held on a date yet to be announced.
Speaking to CommuTalk in different interviews, local CSOs had a common argument that the process was swifter in rural areas compared to urban settings which left many thinking the ruling party influenced the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to increase efficiency in their strongholds.
All interviewed CSOs however had different interpretations of the process.
“In rural areas, the process was swift as compared to urban areas. In urban areas, the registrar’s office took a long time to process national identity cards which affected a lot of youth who became impatient to be following the rather lengthy process hence new voters were indirectly denied the opportunity to regisetr and vote,” said ZESN Midlands Taskforce Chairperson Mejury Mukuneri.
“Although the process was more biased to rural communities, all processes of issuing national identity cards and the voter registration blitz were useful to women and the disabled who in many instances missed such opportunities owing limited access,” she added.
Airing similar sentiments that the process was helpful to minority groups such as women and disabled, the Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) chairperson for Midlands Province Nozipho Rutsate said the issuance of national identity documents and voter registration should be juxtaposed.
“It should be noted that no one can register without a national identification document and as such it may be useless or less efficient to say today, we are issuing national identity cards and another time, registration. The issuance of national documents should somehow be linked to automatic registration and if not, be set side by side so that the processes are more efficient.
“Efficiency will actually result in less criticism in instances where government implements national processes. I speak mostly to efficiency because processes discussed herein were marred by slow speed, long queues that resulted in many people losing patience,” said Rutsate.
A youth-led organization, Community Solutions Zimbabwe is however of the opinion that though many criticized the issuance of national identity cards and voter registration blitz for being rural-centric, they support what the government did saying they were great areas of need.
“Honestly speaking, rural folk had been vulnerable and left out of many processes. Many may want to interpret that as a political tactic but to us we believe proper need was served. Imagine what those people would have endured if the processes had not gone to their doorstep.
“However, the government should make these processes continuous rather than implementing them towards elections only. They should be part of a continuous elections cycle so that everyone benefits at a time that best suits them and at the same time decreasing manipulation which mostly comes as assistance from those seeking political positions,” said Community Solutions Zimbabwe Programs Coordinator.