ERC, ZimRights Open National Call Centre

Regional poll watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) in collaboration with the mass based human rights organisation, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), have opened a call centre as part of the comprehensive programmes to disseminate Biometric Voter Registration information and other election related information.

Zimbabwe will hold make or break general elections in 2018 and preparations for the elections have started with the kick start of the Biometric Voter Registration process.

The call centre, which is billed to run 24/7, has a dual character of getting information from citizens across the country and provide answers some of the questions, while some questions will be referred to the election management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Speaking in an interview the ERC executive director, Tawanda Chimhini,  said  citizens must be informed of the processes to ensure their participation.

“Ahead of every election,” said Chimhini “Civic education is essential to ensure that all constituents, men and women equally, understand their voting rights. For an election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand their rights and responsibilities, and must be sufficiently knowledgeable and well informed.”

The ERC director said, the call center, is part of a cocktail of programmes that are aimed at facilitating smooth registration of citizens.

The organisations in addition to the call center will roll out voter mobilisation, education campaigns to disseminate information to inform voters about the specifics and mechanics of the Biometric  Voter Registration process.

“The collaborating partners will initiate special voter and civic education programmes for targeted groups, including women, youths, minorities, people with disabilities and others who may less likely to vote,” Chimhini said.

“Since the commencement of the voter registration around the 63 district centers the two organizations has been distributing the VR.9 forms that is the Affidavit of residence for voter registration and VR.1 forms that is the Initial Voter Registration forms to potential registrants,” Chimhini said.

Most of the registration centres have been hit by an acute shortage of the VR.9 and VR.1  forms, to date, 6 000 forms have been distributed to potential registrants by ERC and ZimRights.

Chimhini, who has been fighting for human rights and democracy for more than a decade now,   encouraged potential registrants who would have been turned away to insist on having VR.5 forms which details why one has been turned away.