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'Drop in voter numbers disturbing' – NewsDay

THE number of registered voters as of April 30 has dropped by 10 448 compared to the 2018 figures, a trend analysts said was disturbing.

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), Zimbabwe’s total voter population currently stands at 5 685 258 compared to 5 695 706 in 2018. Females constitute 54% of the registered voters and males 46%.

Zec spokesperson Jasper Mangwana, in an interview with the NewsDay yesterday attributed the decline to the removal of deceased voters from the roll.

“Remember the commission is also removing deceased people, so many people have registered deaths with the Registrar-General’s office so that’s the other reason. Numbers increased due to COVID-19 deaths as well,” Mangwana said.

In January, Zec triggered a storm after it announced plans to remove 35 085 names of deceased voters from the votes roll, hardly two months after saying it had identified 22 000 deceased voters on the roll.

Critics accused Zec of “cooking” the figures ahead of the 2023 elections.

Recently, Zec said it registered 110 000 new voters in a voter registration blitz which ran from April 11 to 30.

The exercise was marred by widespread apathy, with civic electoral watchdogs complaining that prospective registrants did not have identity documents.

On Monday, Mangwana told delegates attending a political parties meeting hosted by 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation that Zec, resources permitting,  was contemplating another

“We are fixing the gap as we are now approaching 2023. Voter registration has not stopped…

“What the commission will consider in the near future is to see if it can mobilise resources for another possible blitz if resources are there,” Mangwana said.

Analysts and electoral watchdogs expressed concern over voter registration apathy, saying it was caused by the relentless attacks on the credibility of Zec’s handling of elections.

“Obviously, some voters do not see the need to participate in an election which, according to opposition parties, has a predetermined outcome. Nonetheless, new voters were added but the net is still negative,” Kudzai Mutisi said.

Political analyst Kudakwashe Munemo called for an independent audit of the voters roll.

“It is very shocking considering that political parties and civil society organisations mobilised people to register to vote. There is need for an audit of the voters roll to ascertain whether the rate of people registering has been slower than the removal of the deceased, something which I thinks is incorrect,” Munemo said.

Heal Zimbabwe Trust programmes manager Edknowledge Mandikwaza said voter apathy would have a negative impact on the 2023 elections.

“Root causes to voter apathy, however, are multiple and diverse — voters are fatigued for participating in elections whose results are always contested and bring no change. They (voters) have been brutalised and see taking part in electoral politics as inviting violence and to worsen matters,” Mandikwaza said.

Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust’s Ignatius Sadziwa said: “Conventional voter registration methods are no longer yielding, thus we need a paradigm shift in our approaches and move in sync with international trends. There are over 1,5 million potential first-time voter registrants,” he said.

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Zanu PF woos Mujuru back – The Zimbabwe Mail

Joice Mujuru

Zanu-PF Mahuwe district branch has recommended the readmission of former Mbire legislator David Butau into the party.

Butau was expelled from the ruling party in 2015 after he was linked to the sacked former Vice President Joyce Mujuru led faction accused of trying to topple then Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe.

In a letter dated 5 May 2022, addressed to the Mushumbi District Coordinating Committee chairperson, Mahuwe district vice chairperson, Daniel Mumbamuchena said they had agreed that Butau should be readmitted into the ruling party so he can mobilize voters for President Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead of 2023 elections.

The letter reads: “We as the ward, Mahuwe political district agreed to the letter with the following conditions:

“Butau involved everyone to implement development in Mbire district, he offered personal projects to uplift the livelihoods of people in the entire district.

“He was involved in developing public places like schools, clinics and roads, he donated learning materials like books and computers in most of the schools in the district.

“He assisted orphans and the most vulnerable people in the entire district, he was strongly involved to resolve situation during disasters which affected people in Mbire district”.

Added the letter: “We therefore recommend David Butau to be admitted in Zanu-PF, to continue with his good works and also assist the President of Zimbabwe H.E Mnangagwa in mobilising the five million voters to rally behind Zanu-PF in the impending 2023 general elections.”

Source – NewZimbabwe

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Minister threatens the opposition – The Zimbabwe Mail

Davies Marapira

MASVINGO North Zanu-PF legislator Davies Marapira has declared that beneficiaries of the land reform programme should not support opposition parties and those supporting the opposition will be evicted from resettlement areas.

Addressing Zanu-PF youths during the launch of a US$5 000 football tournament for youths in his constituency at Wondedzo Primary School on Sunday, Marapira said supporting opposition politics in resettlement areas is a taboo punishable by eviction.

His sentiments came as the country draws closer to the 2023 general elections, with several analysts and leaders of opposition parties predicting a violent campaign as Zanu-PF hardliners indicating that they pull out all the stops to retain power.

Masvingo province witnessed terrible political violence during 2002 and 2008 elections which saw tens of people losing their lives and several others being permanently maimed.

Marapira, who is also the minister of State in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office, told the youths that land reform is the brain child of the ruling party and all the beneficiaries of the programme must support Zanu-PF so those found supporting opposition politics in resettlement areas will be sent back to their places of origin. He said opposition politics is for rural areas.

“This area is a resettlement area which was created through policies by the ruling party and everyone staying here should support the ruling party. On this issue we are serious so anyone found supporting the opposition in this area should know of his fate, which is eviction back to his or her rural home and if we do that nothing will happen to us because Zanu-PF is the owner of this land. I think l am clear on this issue and everyone heard what l said,” said Marapira.

Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) Masvingo provincial spokesperson Derick Charamba told The NewsHawks that his party is receiving numerous complaints that opposition members in rural and resettlement areas are being threatened by Zanu-PF officials for exercising their constitutional right to association. He said many of their supporters are being sidelined from government programmes like agricultural input and food aid schemes, which is a gross violation of human rights.

“We are receiving several cases of political threats on our members on daily basis as the country is moving closer to the 2023 general elections. It is not a secret that the ruling party is using unethical practices to intimidate our members. Many of our members are being sidelined during government programmes, which should benefit all citizens, because of their political affiliation and this is a violation of the country’s constitution. We call upon Zanu-PF to stop this behaviour so that we have a fair and acceptable election in 2023,” said Charamba.

MDC-T shadow minister of State for Masvingo Festus Dumbu confirmed that cases of political threats on opposition supporters are increasing in the province on a daily basis. He said his party is adopting strategies that will protect its supporters from the ruling party’s violent behaviour.

“It is true that opposition supporters are being threatened in Masvingo as the country is drawing closer to the 2023 elections. As a party we have adopted a strategy which will protect our people from this violence. Intimidation is what the ruling party knows and this is implemented through traditional leaders and members of the security sector,” said Dumbu.

Source – thenewshawks

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NGOs and litmus test of democracy through natural disasters: SA in good standing – IOL

OPINION: The importance of a democracy can be juxtaposed to the broader African continent, where NGOs are viewed as ‘regime change’ advocates.

BY: Ratidzo Makombe

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Development economist, Amartya Sen, noted in his famous text, “Development as Freedom”, that democracy is an important pillar for the economic development of any country. He alludes to how democracy is important when a country faces a natural disaster, such as the floods that ravaged Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

For Sen, democratic countries with strong independent institutions can withstand unforeseen cataclysmic events, such as the floods in Durban. When substantiating this point, Sen draws examples from Botswana and Zimbabwe, where their experiences of famines that occurred in the early 1980s were not properly managed by the governments at that time, especially in the Zimbabwean case where the country was governed by democratic principles.

Within the African context, South Africa is often viewed as the beacon of democracy in Africa. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has held elections that have been rarely criticised by the international community and the country’s opposition parties.

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A practical assessment of democracy and its relationship with state institutions shows that South Africa seems to be in good standing. Although recently, the debate surrounding state capture has tested South African institutions’ resolve to complete the investigation process and release the state capture report, which is an indication that the institutions in the country are functioning reasonably well.

The Durban floods and the damage to the livelihoods of citizens in KZN can be viewed as a mammoth task for the government. It is safe to say that any government would be severely tested by a natural disaster, even in the most advanced societies. Because government interventions would involve monetary allocations, the fear of corruption would arise.

Citizens have often been confronted with corruption issues, particularly with the ongoing investigation of state capture. In October of 2020, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) announced an investigation of R10.5 billion in potentially corrupt Covid-19 spending across the country.

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It was not surprising that the public space was dominated by news about the potential looting of the funds being raised to support the victims of the flood. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that measures had been put to ensure that public officials would not divert the funds. Despite this, there is a high risk that corruption could hamper the rebuilding process in Durban.

Citizens are also wary of the government’s past involvement in aid for the vulnerable. This is evident with cases of corruption across South Africa involving councillors who would choose who receives the food parcels. Some have been accused of only giving parcels to their relatives and members of their constituencies, thereby sowing serious divisions within communities.

Instead of donating funds to the government, the citizens opted to support the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Gift of the Givers – co-ordinating efforts to assist the victims. Indeed, of the fundamental tenets of a democracy is the vibrancy of civil society organisations such as the Gift of the Givers. One of the reasons such organisations thrive in South Africa can be attributed to the democratic environment created by the government.

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The importance of a democratic society can also be juxtaposed to the broader African continent, where NGOs are viewed as “regime change” advocates. It is essential to be cognisant of the importance of a democratic society in accommodating divergent non-state actors in the face of a natural disaster.

The political environment in South Africa is often viewed as being more receptive to NGOs, hence, the success of the NGOs such as the Gift of the Givers. Previously, the organisation was also at the forefront of assisting communities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been argued that the main role of NGOs is to complement the work that the government is conducting. This has seen many NGOs being at loggerheads with governments of other African countries. In 2017, a law passed in Addis Ababa stipulated that NGOs can only receive a maximum of 10% of their funding from abroad. The government, which is highly suspicious of foreign influence, said the law would ensure greater openness.

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In March, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government in Zimbabwe threatened NGOs for interfering in the country’s governance.

These two cases are examples of the fractious relationship between African governments and NGOs. These examples put the Gift of the Givers case in perspective. It alludes to the tolerance of South Africa, which provides a platform for a harmonious relationship between the government and NGOs. In times of crisis, it is always vital to have a unified approach to addressing the existing challenges.

Democracy is at the heart of Sen’s work, and this is useful for not only South Africa but for Africa. NGOs are an integral part of the governing apparatus of every country, and the Gift of the Givers’ case is pertinent. As shown in the KZN flooding experience, the resilience of the society was brought to the forefront due to their inclusiveness, unity, and selflessness.

* Ratidzo Makombe is a doctoral candidate in Development Studies and a Researcher at the University of Johannesburg’s Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC), South Africa.

* The views expressed here may not necessarily be that of IOL.

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