GWERU: In a bid to accommodate new voters ahead of the 2023 poll, the government of Zimbabwe has made efforts to make identity cards more accessible by introducing mobile collection centers and also introduced voter registration blitz programs.
Whether the exercises will result in more people turning out to cast their vote compared to other years is something yet to be established but establishing whether these processes had a positive or negative impact on the local political playfield is what CommuTalk established through separate discussions with local politicians who will be taking part in the forthcoming election.
Avoiding questions seeking to find out how neutral and efficient was the issuance of national identity cards and voter registration blitz, former POLAD member and President of the new political outfit, Zimbabwe Coalition for Peace and Development (ZCPD) rust Chikohora simply said the processes were good for the nation.
“The issuance of identity cards was useful and it had a positive impact on voter registration. The blitz helped to conscientize voters and encourages people to register as voters,” Chikohora said.
Sharing similar sentiments, ZANU PF district spokesperson Maride said the opposition CCC politicised the good government gesture by sending non-governmental organisations to use money and mobilise people on their behalf in a process that was supposed to be neutral.
“As ZANU PF, we are happy with how the government facilitated for new voters to swiftly get identity cards and also register. That is very unique and should be commended.
“It is however sad that the opposition CCC disturbed a process that was meant to be neutral by using non-governmental organisations to give the young stipends so that they go and register. This in a way can be equated to vote buying and as we may all know, participating in these processes should be voluntary,” Maride said.
The CCC Midlands chairperson Dr. Josiah Makombe however had a contrary perception of the processes under which identity cards were issued through the registrar’s office and the way ZEC managed registration.
“Government did not do much considering that the COVID-19 lockdown slowed down the issuance of national identity cards and registration of new voters. We were expecting that if enough had been done, we could be talking of more than 8 million registered voters now compared to the current 6 million.
“During their set campaigns of issuing identity cards and voter registrations, you would see that they were swifter in rural areas compared to urban settings an arrangement we think was used through manipulation of relevant offices such as ZEC to make sure that they do more work in their strongholds, that is rural settings,” Dr Makombe said.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has not yet published a proclamation in terms of section 144 of the Constitution fixing the dates of the general election due to be held later this year, so the dates are still uncertain.