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Electoral Amendment Bill debate in Matebeleland
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
September 20, 2011

ZESN has taken the Electoral Amendment Bill to Matebeleland where it has so far organized and conducted four successful workshops in Cowdray Park, Makokoba Suburb, Mangwe and Plumtree town. The issues discussed centred on political tolerance and co-existence, citizen participation and the most topical issue being the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill of 2011.

In all the workshops, participants were very keen to discuss on all the topics despite the fact that there were police details present in all the 4 workshops. Participants were drawn from the disabled community, support groups, ward AIDS action Committees and home based care givers, village heads and residents associations.

Date Venue Activity Male Female
12 Sept 2011 Mkhayeni Hall- Mangwe Community Workshop 25 74
13 Sept 2011 BBI hall- Plumtree town Community Workshop 39 37
14 Sept 2011 Cowdray park- brethren Church Community Workshop 15 36
15 Sept 2011 Makokoba- Mcdonald Hall Community Workshop 31 27
    Total 110 174

Highlights of issues from participants:

Political Tolerance and co-existence

  • Participants felt that there was need for ZESN to conduct more workshops on political tolerance and timely updates on the electoral issues.
  • ZESN was challenged to encourage youth to engage in recreation activities and employment creation projects such as community entrepreneurship projects so that they are not found inactive during the election period and this they hoped will reduce politically motivated violence.
  • Participants also castigated people in leadership saying they lack education, discipline and political maturity to respect the electorate. They thought a reasonable minimum educational qualification should be put in place to guard against insensitive leaders.

Electoral Amendment bill 2011

  • Participants in Plumtree wanted to know the exact dates of the public hearings to be conducted by the Parliamentary select committee. They said the dates should be publicized in advance to facilitate good attendance.
  • Participants in Mangwe welcomed the idea of removing the Police from the polling station as they said this will help reduce fear and intimidation of the electorate.
  • They also urged ZEC to conduct elections in a professional manner and to instill confidence in the process.
  • However in Bulawayo some participants were not sure whether to support or to oppose the reform on illiterate voters. They were confused as to the best way to deal with physically and visually challenged voters. Others thought the personal aid was better while others felt a team comprising of a police officer, presiding officer and a relative or friend would be better.
  • Most participants in all the 3 workshops said that the amendment to the Electoral Act was long overdue and a welcome move.
  • There were also discussions on the polling station based voters role which most participants said was not ideal as it will make post election political retribution easy.

As the custom at most of the workshops participants thanked the organizers for such empowering education and encouraged each other to put the knowledge learnt into practice and also to inform others.

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