By Helliet Nyamunda and Admire Mutize.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) rolled out its biometric voter registration blitz (BVR) blitz in Chitungwiza on Tuesday 10 October 2017 with green tents being the most conspicuous indicator that the voter registration exercise, which will culminate in the compilation of a new voters roll for Zimbabwe’s water shed 2018 general election has started.
No crowds or queues were visible on voter registration centres visited by Chitownews on the first two days. Numbers steadily increased as the days passed by according to anecdotal evidence.
The compilation of a new BVR voters roll implies that all prospective voters in Zimbabwe have to register afresh using the BVR process to vote in 2018 despite the fact that one may have registered as a voter previously and participated in past elections.
There were multiple voter registration centres within short walking distances of less than 500 metres most residential surburbs in Chitungwiza.
The absence of queues at most voter registration centres in Chitungwiza definitely signifies depressed interest in electoral and political processes. If this trend is maintained for the duration of the exercise, 2018 polls will deliver another inconclusive election that will be marred by apathy.
Low voter turnout has rung alarm bells among concerned community members and political activists. The indisputable fact is eligible Chitungwiza residents are not turning out in their numbers to biometrically register as voters, a constitutional pre-requirement that enables one to participate in presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
Judging by the low turnout in registration centres , most people in Chitungwiza seem unaware of the BVR blitz or worse still seem not interested in exercising their constitutional right of electing their representatives in government. At this rate, the number of registered and eligible voters will drop in 2018 compared to the previous elections in 2013.
The reasons behind this sad phenomenon may be misunderstood and open to speculation but one clear imperative that has emerged over the BVR blitz is the need to raise awareness of the exercise and motivate Chitungwiza residents to register as voters in their numbers .
Elections are about numbers and their outcome determines the prosperity or failure of governance processes in Zimbabwe. The implication of the foregoing is that elections determine who gets what, when, why and how and are an unavoidable national duty which every right-thinking Zimbabwean must do?
Elections present citizens an opportunity to express themselves to politically choose representatives in government for the next five years.
To Zimbabweans, the importance of the 2018 elections cannot be overstated. 2018 elections present an opportunity to extricate the country from long-running and intensifying economic crises.