5 October 2012

Zimbabwe: Poll Preps - ZEC Invites Aspiring Voter Educators

Photo: IRIN
President Robert Mugabe

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has invited civic groups intending to conduct voter education to register with it by October 9, as churches threw their weight behind an agreement by principals in the Global Political Agreement to have harmonised polls in March next year.

Zimbabwe will hold harmonised polls during which voters would choose the President, Members of Parliament and councillors. The High Court this week gave the nod to an application by President Mugabe to have outstanding by-elections held concurrently with harmonised elections.

This quashed an application by three former MDC legislators Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Norman Mpofu (Mulilima East) and Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) who had approached the courts seeking an order to compel the President to proclaim dates for by-elections to fill in the seats that fell vacant when they were expelled from their party.

The invitation by ZEC yesterday was made in terms of the recently promulgated Electoral Act.

This is the body's preparatory work ahead of the elections.

"The Electoral Act further mandates ZEC to approve and authorise organisations and individuals who may apply to conduct voter education and to approve the voter education materials and programmes.

"ZEC is therefore requesting civic society organisations interested in conducting voter education to submit the following details to ZEC headquarters by October 9 2012," said the election body in a statement yesterday.

Some of the requirements include certificate of registration, comprehensive organisation profile including board members and general membership, telephone numbers, Constitution, mandate and any other details.

The need to vet organisations that conduct voter education came in the wake of some groups that had been campaigning for some political parties under the guise of voter education.

The Electoral Act gives ZEC power to vet organisations and assess their material before they are disseminated to the public.

ZEC acting chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said on Tuesday that some bodies that wanted to work with the commission would undergo training.

She was addressing journalists on the electoral body's lined up activities ahead of the March polls.

Mrs Kazembe said ZEC had conducted voter education at various places.

"Voter education has always been part of the electoral process and it is on going. As in the past, the commission, has conducted voter education at exhibitions such as Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and at provincial agricultural shows," she said.

She said ZEC had of late been distributing material for voter education.

"Currently all the commission's 10 provincial electoral offices have received the voter education materials as of Friday September 14 2012. They are currently distributing these to the district electoral offices," she said.

The commission, she said, had since October 2011, held a number of stakeholder consultative workshops aimed at consulting and educating the public about ZEC activities.

"Funds permitted more voter education materials will be produced and information will be disseminated throughout the country on continuous basis using drama, electronic media, talk shows, door-to-door voter education, press conferences among other dissemination methods," she said.

Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, Tehillar Christian Network founding president Reverend Sam Malunga welcomed the holding of elections next year saying this was in accordance with God's plan.

"People of Zimbabwe should rally behind President Mugabe in this decision with other principals for elections next year.

"This gives impetus ahead of elections for the need to build synergies among various bodies who seek to see the holding of peaceful elections," said Rev Malunga.

His network comprises about 65 churches.

He said they were also working with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee and the ZEC to build peace.

"There is need for a united front to reinforce each other in respect of enhancing conflict prevention and in mutually condemning acts of violence," he said.

The decision to hold polls next year, he said, was a social contract and moral obligation of all Zimbabweans to work together and complement efforts by authorities to have free and fair elections.

"It is in this context that God's divine purpose and prophetic decrees upon Zimbabwe will be fulfilled as the case relating to peace that has prevailed in Zimbabwe for the past 30 years under the leadership of President Mugabe," he said.

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