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Zimbabwe opposition youths threaten to strike over electoral reforms

OPPOSITION MDC-T youths have threatened mass protests on Wednesday to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to reform the electoral roadmap and increase voter registration centres, particularly in Harare and Bulawayo.

MDC-T youth secretary-general, Lovemore Chinoputsa told NewsDay yesterday that Zec had deliberately reduced the number of registration centres in perceived opposition party strongholds to give the ruling Zanu PF an upper hand ahead of next year’s general elections.

“So basically we are calling everyone to protest against the impediments being put by Zec to disenfranchise Zimbabweans by putting restrictive measures on young people to exercise their democratic right to vote,” Chinoputsa said.

He added: “The issues we are more worried about are the restrictive and inhibiting proof of residence, fewer registration centres for MDC-T strongholds namely Harare, Bulawayo and the Matabeleland regions.”

On Thursday, Zec unveiled 9 663 voter registration centres across the country and Harare and Bulawayo will have 700 and 400 centres respectively. Manicaland will have 1 310, Mashonaland Central 870, Mashonaland East 1 135 and Mashonaland West 1 220.

Masvingo has been allocated 1 265, Matabeleland North 850, Matabeleland South 640 and Midlands 1 390.

The planned demonstrations come at a time when the MDC-T’s national standing committee yesterday concluded a two-day strategic workshop to discuss the 2018 electoral strategies.

“We held our strategic planning meeting where we are planning for next year’s elections. We looked at voter registration, voter education, reviewing biometric voter registration (BVR) report from Zec and others,” MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said.

“We came out with strategic responses to Zec. We also looked at our methodology of campaigning. We discussed about the coalition and how we are going to work with our coalition partners. We looked at their election plan and strategy. We are now aware of it and we have strategies for it. We are aware they need to manipulate next year’s elections, but we made sure we have a plan to avoid all the planned manipulation.”

Mwonzora added that as part of his party’s 2018 election preparation, he recently visited the Gambia to study the electoral coalition that managed to dislodge former President Yahya Jammeh.

“As you know the Gambia had successful elections and in particular the campaign was built on a coalition.

“We are studying the Gambian model of coalition building and how it works. As you may be aware, the former president was refusing to leave office after the defeat. We had similar problems here and the purpose of the visit was to see how they made it possible,” Mwonzora said.

 

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