“Christians, it is Your Duty To Register As Voters And Vote”

Zimbabwe has introduced a new voter registration system. This is an electronic system called the Biometric Voter’s Roll (BVR). If you had voted before, you need to register afresh as the old manual Voter Register has been shredded and is now history.

By Andrew Makoni

To enable you to register, you will need to bring with you your Identity card or passport as well as proof of residence in the form of a utility bill, an affidavit confirming your residence, a letter from a chief, headman, or Councillor, or even a letter you have received bearing your name and home address.

You can register at any center and your name will be transmitted electronically to your polling station.

In this installment I want to appeal to Christians to join the queue and register.

While I cannot point to imperial evidence of Christian apathy in Zimbabwe, elsewhere it has been observed that Christians generally lack interest in elections. Christians who decide not to vote cite various reasons, some valid, including the following:

– Christians must not involve themselves in politics;
-the persons on the ballot are not God fearing;
-it does not make a difference whether I vote or not. The bad always prevail;
-The establishment is so corrupt and it does not do me good to vote.
-the election has already been rigged.

They may have valid issues with voting, but as the saying goes, evil prevails when good men keep quite. Indeed evil prevails when good people don’t register to vote and vote on election day.

Dr James Dobson bemoaned voter apathy among Chistians. He says “… it is a disgrace that the Christians in America aren’t even registered to vote, and of those who are, only half go to the polls. When we withhold our influence and participation, we yield by default to those who promote immoral and destructive policies.

I cannot agree more. When you decide not to vote, someone will decide your future for you. In fact by abstaining from voting you actually vote passively. Not voting is a form of voting in which the one who abstains has in his silence empowered other people to decide his future. By not voting you will passively facilitate vote rigging.

God expects you and me to play our part in the governance of our country. This is the only way we can “render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”.(Romans 13:1)

In Timothy 2:1-4, Paul makes the call that we must pray for our leaders. Indeed we petition for God fearing leadership all the time in Church. If the Lord would want us to pray for our leaders, would he not also require of us to elect leaders who best promote peace, love, good governance and righteousness? God wants us also to pray about who we should vote for in every election.

In Deuteronomy 1:13 God commanded Israelites to ” choose from your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men and I will appoint them as your leaders”.

God speaks the same of us today: -“Choose from your number wise, understanding, God fearing and experienced men and women and I will appoint them as your leaders”.

God gives us the wisdom and responsibility to choose the right leaders and He will appoint them for us. When He is displeased of our choices He does not hesitate to judge.(Hosea 8:4).

Christians when you pray that God fearing leaders be voted into the office in 2018, you must also play your part. You must register to vote and then God will give you the wisdon to vote for the right candidates on election day.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) moved it’s BVR registration blitz into my Constituency today 29 October 2017. It being a Sunday I, after a church service, decided to check whether indeed ZEC is in town. Stories told when the blitz started were of delays in commencement of business. I was pleasantly surprised to see everything set and ZEC officials ready except that they had no one to register; yes absolutely no one! There are four registration kits at this centre (Greystone Park Primary School) and the officials were idle, literally killing time with no work to do.

I quickly dashed home to collect my particulars and returned to the registration centre to register. As there was no one in front of us, my brother and I walked straight to registration desks and in about eight minutes it was all done.

It was obvious that there has been very little publicity of such an important process in my constituency. This I believe has been the story in almost all constituencies.

The law and indeed good governance requires that a voter registration exercise be preceded by extensive and comprehensive voter education to ensure reach to all potential voters. This does not appear to have been done. Yes there are some adverts on radio and television. True there are some road shows. This however falls short as not all citizens listen to radio, watch television or are fascinated by road shows. A door to door awareness campaign, carried out by ZEC and its cooperating partners, coupled by extensive use of the social media was and is still necessary so that no eligible voter is left out.

Using my church’s whatsapp groups I took the initiative to alert my fellow church mates that ZEC is in town. In no time a number of my church mates made their way to the nearby polling stations and registered without any hustle. I counted more than two dozen who answered this call. This shows that with a little effort from all of us, the majority of eligible voters will be able to register on the new electronic voters’ roll.

As Christians we must therefore encourage each other to register as voters in this two months’ window left before the blitz phase ends.

Register to vote now and take charge of your destiny.

I have registered to vote and God willing I will vote. You too must play your part.

Andrew Makoni is the Zimbabwe Election Support Network(ZESN) Board Chairperson and a partner at Mbidzo Muchadehama & Makoni Legal Practitioners. He writes in his personal capacity.

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