Thursday, February 10, 2011

RGS office bars youths from registering

The Registrar General’s Office in Bulawayo has reportedly created bottlenecks to inhibit youths from registering as voters for the next elections.
As a result, youth organisations have accused the RG Tobaiwa Mudede’s Office of systematically barring youths from registering for the forthcoming elections citing flimsy excuses.
The Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe (Yidez), which seeks to mobilise youths to register so that they are eligible to vote during election periods complained that the registration process was not “youth friendly” and that officials at the RG’s Office cited various excuses to bar their members from registering as voters.
President Robert Mugabe has indicated the country might go for polls with or without a new Constitution this year to replace the coalition government formed between Zanu PF and the two MDC parties.
The international community has expressed concern over the holding of early polls in Zimbabwe before an election roadmap guaranteeing free and fair polls was put in place as agreed on by the three main political parties.
“The problems we are facing as an organisation to
have youths registered is that each time the officers from the RG’s Office see a group of young people with affidavits to confirm where they reside, then they know they are doing so for purposes of elections.
“The youths are given a plethora of reasons such as machines are not working. It’s like what was happening in Karoi towards the end of last year.
“They would say they are strictly attending to the Apostolic sect for registration and birth certificates,” said Yidez executive director Sydney Chisi.
“In some instances, youths are just being told, ‘we are not yet doing registration yet’,” he said.
Repeated efforts to get comment from Mudede were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered, while Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone refused to comment.
But analysts said the RG’s Office does not recognise tenants, thereby thwarting the democratic process by excluding from registration mostly youths and women.
Ironically, youths form the backbone of the country’s political parties. The analysts said voter registration should be non-partisan.
Analyst Effie Ncube said the barring of youths to register for the forthcoming polls was a systematic strategy by Zanu PF to slice the MDC vote as most youths in the country back the former opposition party.
“It’s a deliberate approach by Zanu PF to exclude the youth, who mainly support the MDC parties. Zanu PF is working with the RG’s office to make voter registration very difficult so that the youths do not win their battle for change,” Ncube.
Madock Chivasa, chairperson of another independent youth organisation, the Youth Forum Zimbabwe, also took a swipe at the RG’s Office for barring youths from voter registration.
“The Forum notes with deep regret the numerous bottlenecks that have over time become entrenched in our Constitution and other statutes that seek to inhibit the full participation of young people in the overall governance processes of our country.
“The requirements that the RG has set for one to be registered as a voter are inhibitive and have over the years denied a lot of young people their democratic right to participate in elections,” Chivasa noted.
A report released last week by an election monitoring organisation, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, noted the majority of youths were not on the voters’ roll.

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