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Tsvangirai: Eligible Zimbabweans Must Register to Vote in Crucial 2018 General Elections

  • Gibbs Dube

FILE: Zimbabwe's main opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai pauses as he addresses supporters at a rally in Harare, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. Tsvangirai signed a coalition deal with other smaller parties in a bid to oust President Robert Mugabe in presidential elections set for next year. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by former trade unionist, Morgan Tsvangirai, has urged Zimbabweans to register in centers set up by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in what the commission calls a nationwide Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) blitz.

In a statement, Tsvangirai said, “The democratic notion of one person one vote was one of the key pillars and rallying points of the armed liberation struggle against racist colonial exploitation and subjugation.

“As a social democratic political party, the MDC fervently believes in and indeed, passionately advocates for a situation in which all eligible Zimbabweans, without exception, are able to exercise their constitutional right not only to register to vote but also to be able to freely and fairly cast their ballot on polling day.”

Tsvangirai commended ZEC for re-energizing the BVR exercise, which started Tuesday.

“This is a historic exercise that must, without fail, cover each and one of the country’s 1,958 wards. Mobile BVR teams should be capacitated to reach even the most remote of the country’s wards. By the time that the mobile BVR exercise comes to a halt in January, 2018, no single eligible Zimbabwean should be left out in the registration process.

“Thousands of gallant sons and daughters of the soil paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that we obtain the one person one vote principle. Thus, we shouldn’t betray these gallant and selfless heroes and heroines by deliberately disenfranchising eligible Zimbabweans.”

He noted that there were millions of people, who were regarded as aliens, that may be left out of the BVR exercise and as a result won’t vote in the 2018 general elections.

“These are people whose parents, grandparents and great grandparents originally came from neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and some of these people’s ancestors also came from overseas countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Italy, Germany and many other countries. These people consider Zimbabwe to be their permanent home and it is actually degrading and insulting to continue to refer to these people as aliens.

“The word ‘alien’ smacks of discrimination and segregation. This word should actually be immediately removed from our vocabulary if we are to foster a united and patriotic Republic of Zimbabwe in which there is no discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, creed, ethnicity and religion.”

He appealed to Zimbabweans living abroad to ensure that they register to vote. “The MDC would like to take this opportunity to, once again, call upon all eligible Zimbabweans, including those people living in the Diaspora, to make sure that they sacrifice and come back home to enable them to register to vote.

“Our fight for the Diaspora vote continues unabated but in the interim, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are kindly called upon to do the honourable and patriotic duty of coming back home to register to vote. The millions of Zimbabweans in the South African Diaspora are humbly urged to cross the border into the town of Beitbridge where they can register to vote before they can return to their foreign bases.”

Tsvangirai also noted that there are several issues that continue dogging the BVR exercise, which include severs that will be used to store and transmit all the recorded names and related information.

“Our eyes and ears are firmly and securely on the ball. We are leaving absolutely nothing to chance. Once beaten, twice shy. After the BVR exercise has been completed, the MDC and other stakeholders have put in place a mechanism that will ensure the thorough and exhaustive audit of the national voters’ roll by a firm of reputable and independent experts. Thus, there is absolutely no reason for Zimbabweans to be apathetic this time around. We should know that the Zanu PF dictatorship has always subsisted on voter apathy; particularly in the urban areas.”

He also urged youth, who constitute 64 percent of eligible voters, to register in large numbers. “The future of our great country belongs to the youth and as such, we look forward to the enthusiastic participation of our youths in the electoral processes.”

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