BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
RESIDENTS associations drawn from the country’s major towns and cities have resolved to jointly conduct voter mobilisation, civic education, as well as pushing for electoral reforms ahead of the 2023 general elections.
According to a communiqué released on Monday after a meeting held in Gweru on October 4 and 5, the associations agreed to strengthen “citizen agency towards participation in electoral and governance issues” .
“The meeting noted with concern the continued shrinking of democratic space in Zimbabwe,” the October 25 communiqué read.
“The meeting acknowledged the need to create a coalition of residents associations whose tasks will include voter mobilisation and civic education as well as to push for electoral reforms (around local governance issues). The coalition will include different stakeholders including the private sector.”
Electoral reforms are seen as key to guaranteeing an undisputed election in the country.
This was after different election observer missions in the 2018 elections made a raft of recommendations, including that the legislative and electoral frameworks in the country must be reviewed.
Civic groups and opposition parties have expressed concern over the slow pace in the implementation of electoral reforms, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government accused of lacking political will.
The Gweru meeting noted the importance of voter education as a way of capacitating citizens to demand accountability from duty bearers.
Other resolutions by the residents’ associations included the need for capacity building in respect to local governance and electoral issues as well as the need to push for diaspora vote in the 2023 elections.
The Electoral Act only grants government employees such as diplomats the right to vote from outside the country under the postal voting model. But section 67 of the Constitution speaks of the right of all citizens to vote.