Columbus Mabika Herald Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has heightened preparations for the 2023 harmonised elections and is presently working on modalities aimed at promoting the participation of people living with disabilities in electoral processes.
Speaking during an interface with organisations representing people living with disabilities yesterday, ZEC director voter registration and delimitation Mr Tinos Madondo said they were working on correcting challenges faced by people living with disabilities that were realised during last year’s polls.
“We are working on eradicating the challenges affecting people with disabilities during registration and voting processes that we noted in the previous election,” he said.
“The challenges discourage people with disability from voting, hence the need to improve and set new standards that are in line with the requirements by people living with disability before the next election.”
Mr Madondo said ZEC was working with organisations representing people with disabilities to register and come up with a data base of all of those who were eligible to vote.
Some of the measures being considered by ZEC include printing of braille voter education materials to cater for the visually impaired, collaboration to design voter education material (posters) and visuals which include people with disabilities, encode voter education materials into sign language, and disseminating messages using sign language.
Mr Madondo challenged organisations representing people living with disabilities to provide interpreters and assistants to help register their members.
ZEC senior registration officer Mr Brian Mhonda said voting was a sacred trust in a democracy, and it was an obligation of the society to make it accessible to all eligible citizens to participate.
“In Zimbabwe, the political rights to vote are enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Section 67, in particular subsection 3 which provides for the right to vote or be voted for by everyone who is eligible to do so,” he said.
Director and founder of Signs of Hope Trust Mrs Samantha Sibanda, an organisation that facilitates activities that provide a platform for dialogue concerning disability issues, welcomed the development by ZEC, saying it eliminated absence of representation and under-representation of people with disabilities in electoral processes.
“We hope this interface with ZEC will improve the perception of people with disabilities who face a lot of violation and are not treated as equal members of the society.
“This is despite the fact that they occupy a significant proportion of the society.”