Low voter registration could lead to voter apathy in the March 26 by-election, as a number of youths in Tsholotsho are not registered due to lack of Identity documents and inaccessibility of the Registrar General’s office.
Tsholotsho South constituency will have a by-election to replace Zenzo Sibanda who died last year from Covid-19 complications.
However, lack of identification and limited information has been cited as one of the key reasons why a number of youths are not registered.
In an interview with CITE, some youths in Mbamba Village, Ward 15 Tsholotsho South said they had no IDs to register.
“We are not registered because we have no IDs and we don’t even know how to go about taking them,” said a 22-year-old Zwelani Mpofu, who was in the company of his friends.
“We also don’t know much about the by-elections; we only hear about the by-election but have no knowledge how that will help us. We want jobs so we can take care of our grandparents.”
Mpofu’s friends also added that they do not know where the Registrar’s Office was located.
“Does this mean we have to go to Bulawayo? We always hear people say koMsitheli (referring to the name commonly used to call the Registry office in Bulawayo). Why don’t the registry people come here and give us IDs,” they quizzed.
ZAPU, which launched its Tsholotsho South by-election campaign in the village, expressed concern that lack of documentation was still an issue.
“We asked the youth why they are not registered and they said they don’t even have IDs. When we look at this matter, it shows there is some marginalisation of some sort. Why is it hard for people to access birth certificates and IDs? This issue must be dealt with urgently,” said ZAPU’s Treasurer General, Future Msebele.
Msebele noted that the government must have a deliberate outreach programme to target rural areas.
“The youth are raising critical issues and this is a cause of concern. It is up to the government to come up with a programme which will encompass everyone and make sure they get to these areas and register our people,” he said.
Like other countries, the Zimbabwean government must also work to modernise both the documentation and the voter registration process, Msebele added, noted such would minimise burden.
“Quite a number of people need assistance and are left out in this whole process of securing documentation and the voting process. They are not doing anything and the future is bleak for all these people. A lot needs to be done, the government needs to step in and correct this,” said the ZAPU official.
Msebele also said parents whose children were in South Africa should encourage them to try to access documentation and register when they came for holidays or visited.
“It is important to register because it saves our constituencies. The number of constituencies is not taken from the national census, it’s taken from the voters’ roll. If there are few registered people it means representation in parliament will be less. It’s important to pass this message to our children in South Africa because this has broader implications,” he said.