Centre News Reporter

MASVINGO- SOME residents in the country’s first urban settlement have
professed ignorance over the ongoing biometric voter registration
blitz by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) saying the exercise
lacks adequate publicity.
Speaking during a meeting between residents, councilors and ZEC
officials, held by Masvingo United Residents and Rate Payers Alliance
(MURRA), Tuesday, to deliberate on the nexus between voter
registration, voting, and service delivery, residents said they were
not aware that the registration blits was taking place in their
residential areas.
ZEC commenced the second phase of the registration blits on the 11th
of this month and will wrap up the program on the 30th.
A ward 1 resident, Tracy Musakaruka blamed ZEC for not raising enough
awareness about the program saying residents especially the youth
were not visiting the registration centers to register because of
ignorance.
“Some of us have learnt of this noble exercise at this meeting. we
were not aware, had it not been our resident body that invited us to
this meeting with ZEC officials we would still be in the dark. I think
you guys from ZEC should improve your publicity and awareness raising
on such important programmes,” said Muasakaruka.
Some residents said lack of adequate awareness and advertising of the
process was leading to low turnout of people who come to register to
vote.
Pastor Cover Mugwadi, who leads an organization that represents people
with disabilities said the message of the exercise has not reached his
constituency.
“I can tell you in no uncertain terms that members of the disability
community are not even aware of this program because they need special
ways of information dissemination to reach them. ZEC should also try
to find ways of reaching us because we will be left out when voting
comes, if we are not registered,” said Mugwadi.
Other residents implored ZEC to embrace the new information technology
systems to raise awareness using various social media tools.
‘’ZEC should move with the times and embrace social media tools like
Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to raise awareness and sensitise
residents about this ongoing program. They can use video skits,
jingles and electronic fliers to reach out to residents and youth to
know where to go and register to vote,” said Gregory Mago, from
Runyararo west.
A ZEC official who represented her organization at the meeting but
declined to be mentioned in the press due to work related protocols
said they were carrying out a door to door awareness of the ongoing
exercise.
“We are currently undertaking a door to door awareness exercise but we
face resistance from residents some of them do not even pay attention
to us while others do not open their doors when we knock so it’s a bit
difficult for us but we will pass on your concerns to our bosses,” she
said.
Efforts to get a comment from ZEC Provincial Officer, Zex Pudurai,
were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Lack of adequate information dissemination about the programme has
largely been blamed for poor turn out at the registration centers.
In February, during the first phase of the programme ZEC managed to
register a paltry 6000 people in the whole province.