HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has begun the process of accrediting civic organisations that it will collaborate with when it rolls out its voter education campaign ahead of the eagerly-anticipated next year’s elections.
This comes as there were growing concerns among the civic society organisations (CSOs) that the national elections management body was delaying the launch of the voter education and registration processes.
In a June 21 letter to the organisations, Zec acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said the electoral commission will soon be inviting the organisations to partake in various campaigns.
Over and above traditional civic organisations such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) and Elections Resource Centre, among several others, Zec has also invited new partners to participate.
“You are therefore authorised to collaborate with the commission in voter education programmes and you will be receiving invitation to conduct voter education from time to time depending on electoral processes scheduled.
“It is critical to note that your organisation should undertake to be bound by the provisions of the Zimbabwe Constitution , Section 40 of the Electoral Act Chapter (2:13) as well as code of conduct for voter educators,” Silaigwana said in a letter to the Zimbabwe Protection Forum.
Stakeholders have been putting pressure on Zec to expedite the accreditation of civic society organisations that have applied to complement the commission’s efforts in conducting comprehensive voter education.
This is against a backdrop of challenges which marred previous mobile voter registration exercises in last elections where hundreds of people were turned away for various reasons, including lack of proper identification and proper proof of residence.
The Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (Bridge) handbook defines voter education, also known as electoral education, as programmes aimed at people of the voting age and over and addresses voters’ motivation and preparedness to participate fully in elections.
Voter education is basically concerned with giving the types of electoral systems and electoral process and concepts such as basic human rights and voting rights, the role, responsibilities and rights of voters, the relationship between elections and democracy, conditions necessary for democratic elections, secrecy of the ballot, why each vote is important and its impact on public accountability and how votes translate into seats.