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Voter registration must intensify

Opinion & Analysis
The voter education programmes mainly target youth and women in rural areas, mining compounds and plantations where access to information is a serious challenge.

THE Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) held a series of voter education activities in Masvingo province through various initiatives such as sporting tournaments, radio programmes, social media platforms and community meetings.

The campaign seeks to encourage the youth to register to vote and also to raise awareness in the province about the registration blitz that is currently underway.

The voter education programmes mainly target youth and women in rural areas, mining compounds and plantations where access to information is a serious challenge.

Last week, Cotrad hosted a “go register to vote” sporting tournament at Chatikobo business centre in ward 16, Masvingo Central, while the Zec officials were registering voters at the same event.

About 45 people were attended to by Zec officials during the activity either registering as new voters or transferring their voting stations.

The activity was also attended by ward 16 councillor Admore Dhemba and traditional leaders from the close-by villages, who assisted the potential voters with the proof of residence, a requirement during voter registration process.

Speaking during the event, Dhemba appreciated the Cotrad, Zec collaborative work in Masvingo rural.

Many people in that ward have not yet registered and many hope that staffers from the Registrar-General’s Office visit them, Zec officials will also take time to register new voters.

Many people in the area do not have IDs. Some first-time voters who managed to register during the Chatikobo activity explained that they previously faced some challenges in trying to register.

However, the activity helped them to register since the present public officials assisted them to get proof of residents, and Zec officials addressed various challenges that affected people in the past.

Cotrad also held similar campaigns in Mashava mining area and Chiredzi sugarcane estates, areas which Cotrad observed a very low voter registration turnout during the first phase of the Zec mobile voter registration blitz that ran from February 1 to 28.

Therefore, the campaign aimed to further educate and encourage potential registrants to utilise the second phase of the mobile voter registration blitz, which started April 11 and end on April 30.-Cotrad

Independent commissions must be impartial and deliver on constitutional mandate

HUMAN rights defenders (HRDs) in local communities across the country’s provinces have expressed concern over the lack of swift response by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to deal with incidences of targeted violence in the run-up to the March 2022 by-elections.

This came out during a virtual dialogue conducted by Heal Zimbabwe with 300 HRDs drawn from the country’s 10 provinces.

The dialogue meeting sought to evaluate the state of human rights in local communities and share strategies on effective voter mobilisation ahead of the 2023 plebiscite.

Participants bemoaned the lack of swift response by independent commissions when cases of political violence increased in the run up to the March by-elections.

They said commissions such as the NPRC and ZHRC failed to fulfil their constitutional mandates, adding that even when Mboneni Ncube, a Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) activist, was killed by Zanu PF youths in Kwekwe, the commissions did not even act.

If anything, the NPRC played down the case and failed to even issue a statement condemning such heinous act, another participant said.

Participants also noted that voter mobilisation by political parties has intensified in rural communities and that in some cases, community members are forced to attend political meetings.

Food aid, mostly from the Department of Social Welfare, continues to be used as a weapon against opposition party supporters, another participant said.

They claimed that village heads are denying aid to individuals who fail to attend political gatherings, especially those called for by the ruling party, Zanu PF.

As part of resolutions, the HRDs resolved to continue documenting and reporting cases of human rights violations to the responsible institutions and also continue mediating conflicts in a bid to build social cohesion in local communities.

The dialogue meeting also resolved that there was need for HRDs to intensify voter mobilisation initiatives ahead of the 2023 elections.

The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities.

Heal Zimbabwe utilises various strategies to address conflicts in local communities.

One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities.

Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.-Heal Zimbabwe

BCC must stop stealing from ratepayers

WRITE this letter to express my disappointment with the Bulawayo City Council.

I am a resident in the city and have always honoured my bills despite the exorbitant charges.

I never miss a month without paying my bills. Last month I paid $7 200 for my water bill, which accumulated under unclear circumstances.

After paying the bill, my account stated that I was at minus owing.

But today (yesterday) when I went to pay the bill for this month, I was told that I owed $5 000 and that the total bill was $10 000.

Now I do not understand how and why is the bill rising every month yet I pay my account.

BCC must know that by cheating loyal and committed ratepayers, it is discouraging them to pay.

It is known that there are some residents who always struggle to pay or fail to pay for a long time.

The council must not take advantage of those who are paying properly to frustrate them by piling unnecessary bills on them.

I am very disappointed with the level of confusion and unfair practice by the council.

Those in positions of authority must look into this and resolve it as a matter of urgency.

We as residents have a right to pay what is due, but not to be forced to pay for what we did not consume.

The explanation they gave me is that when I paid last month, there were some arrears for the previous months, but my argument is that when I paid, it was according to the statement they sent me, which showed the bill to be around $7 000 and I even paid more than the amount on the statement.

Why then is it that someone tells me that the current $10 000 bill has some carry-over from the previous months which the system had failed to read when they produced the March statement?

This is pathetic.

This is theft from the citizens. The worse part of it is that I am not alone in this problem, many residents who were paying last Friday had similar complaints and the explanations given to them were not satisfying.

Please authorities, can you stop the theft being committed by the BCC at Revenue Hall.

We should never be punished for being loyal and committed to honouring our bills.

This is grossly unfair.-Concerned Bulawayo resident

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