Local news

Authorities urged to act on vote bullies

By Moses Chibaya

MASVINGO residents have called for action on those intimidating citizens that would have registered for next year’s elections through demanding to record serial numbers from registration slips.

Speaking during Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs’ public hearing Civic Centre Friday afternoon, residents said the culprits are deterring potential registrants adding that they are likely to cause voter apathy.

One Gilbert Sibanda said the intimidation tactics that are being used were a cause for concern that needed immediate action from the authorities.

“We have people here in Masvingo that are worried by the people that are recording people’s names telling them that they will be able to detect one’s vote. It is high time that the culprits are brought to book,” Sibanda said.

Another citizen who identified herself as Precious said the acts of intimidation are escalating and might deter some people from registering to vote if action is not taken immediately.

The Biometric Voter Registration process which commenced in September this year has been rocked by reports of voter intimidation in some parts of the country.

Marondera Central Member of Parliament Lawrence Katsiru, who was chairing the meeting, told the crowd that converged at the place that the committee is recording everything that citizens were saying.

The Election Resource Centre’s executive director, Tawanda Chimhini said, expressed concern on the reports of intimidation that have been reported in some parts of the country.

He said, “The ERC wishes to assure Zimbabweans that the Biometric Voter Registration process is a much more secure process that ensures the secrecy of the ballot.”

Chimhini urged citizens to report any acts of intimidation or misinformation in their communities by calling its call centre on toll free number 08080219.

On the issue of the Bill, Chimhini urged parliament to come up with a clear roadmap to Zimbabwe’s legal framework on elections ahead of the harmonised elections to be held in 2018.

“The ERC urges the Speaker of Parliament, the Parliament of Zimbabwe, and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to outline a clear roadmap to Zimbabwe’s legal framework ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections,” he said.

Chimhini urged Parliament to seriously consider the public’s input during the public hearings on the current Electoral Amendment Bill.

He took the opportunity to encourage all eligible citizens to register and vote in the 2018 harmonised elections.

Gary Murambiwa
the authorGary Murambiwa