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ZESN holds more workshops in Masvingo and Matebeland South provinces
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
October 05, 2011

This activity update gives the highlights of the community workshops that were conducted by ZESN in Masvingo and Matabeleland South Provinces. The workshops again sought to highlight the importance of citizen participation in elections, to debate on the Electoral Amendment Bill (2011) and issues of political tolerance and co-existence.

Demographic Information

Date Venue Activity Male Female
19 Sept 2011 Chivi Central, Masvingo Community workshop -Electoral Amendment Bill 29 52
20 Sept 2011 Chivi Central Gwitima Business Centre, Ward 18 Community workshop - Electoral Amendment Bill 30 35
21 Sept 2011 Mashonga Primary School, Masvingo North Community workshop - Electoral Amendment Bill 25 62
22 Sept 2011 Hippo Valley Estates Section 8 Chiredzi West Community workshop - Electoral Amendment Bill 49 15
23 Sept 2011 Chilonga Township Community workshop - Electoral Amendment Bill 28 1
26 Sept 2011 Garanyemba ward centre Community w/shop on citizen participation, political tolerance and Electoral Amendment Bill 37 27
27 Sept 2011 Guyu - preschool hall Community w/shop on citizen participation 18 45
28 Sept 2011 Silozwi Hall Community w/shop on citizen participation 25 41

Common issues raised by participants:

Political tolerance and co-existence

  • Participants called for the appreciation and acceptance of divergent political views.
  • Participants encouraged each other to take part in community development programmes including workshops so that they are empowered to make informed decisions.
  • Participants called upon ZESN to conduct more workshops on political tolerance
  • Participants bemoaned the apparent lack of tolerance, discipline and political maturity of the leaders in dealing with intolerance in the country.

Citizen Participation

  • Participants discussed how the changes in the Citizenship Act affected and disenfranchised many people. They felt that this Act should be amended to ensure that the people's right to vote is respected and promoted as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
  • Participants also called for the repealing or amending of laws such as POSA and AIPPA so that citizens' right to participate in political activities is improved.

Electoral Amendment Bill 2011

  • In Garanyemba participants felt that there was need to consider recruiting unemployed youths (e.g. unemployed University or College graduates) as polling officers or monitors
  • Concern was raised over the pending electoral disputes dating back to 2005. The credibility and efficiency of the judiciary system was discussed and questioned by participants. The need for timely resolution of disputes was highlighted as being critical.
  • Some participants queried the exclusion of citizens in the Diaspora from voting. They argued that external voting should be opened to all Zimbabwean who are outside the country as especially they contribute to the country economically through remittances.

There were heated debates at Mashonga, Silozwi and Chilonga over the issue of polling station based voter's roll and voting. Some felt that it was a good way of cleaning the voters' roll while others feared political retribution after the elections. One participant at Chilonga even revealed that after every election political parties carry out audits of votes garnered at each polling station. A polling station based system would make it very easy to establish the voting trend of each station against the actual persons who voted.

  • Participants in all workshops agreed on the need for a new voters' roll before the next elections
  • They urged police and other legal structures to make sure that there is no selective application of the law. All people must be treated equally before the law regardless of their political affiliation.
  • At Silozwa, Hippo Valley Estates, Chilonga and Guyu most participants agreed to suggestions of using the Braille ballot papers and the use of identifiable symbols for the illiterate and disabled instead of assisted voting which infringes on the secrecy of the ballot.
  • Some participants also felt that the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act be removed as it gives an unfair advantage to one political party, enabling unilateral amendments of the Electoral Laws.

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