MDC-T deputy president Nelson Chamisa has called for compulsory voting among Zimbabweans, insisting the country should take after Australia where citizens are penalised for failing to vote.
He was speaking as co-panellist at a policy dialogue forum hosted by academic and publisher Dr Ibbo Mandaza’s SAPES Trust Thursday where he also denied any plans by his party to seek alliances within Zanu PF’s feuding factions.
He insisted that the country’s main opposition by parliamentary representation was however, in talks with former Zanu PF loyalists in attempts to broaden the envisaged coalitions against the ruling party in elections next year.
But in his comments, Chamisa said the country’s Constitution made it “peremptory” for citizens to cast their ballots.
He challenged government to facilitate automatic registration for all citizens reaching 18 years.
“In terms of our Constitution, Section 67, sub-section 3, every Zimbabwean who is above 18 is supposed to be a voter. It’s a must, it’s peremptory,” Chamisa said.
“So, I am challenging Advocate (Fadzayi, who was in the gallery) Mahere and others to mount a Constitutional challenge and cause the government to have automatic registration of citizens at the age of 18.
“It should not be the headache of the citizen; it should be the headache of the government because it’s an obligation arising out of a Constitution and with this law, you can actually take it further, like in Australia, and even say, you problematise not voting.
“Like what is in Australia, you are penalised for not voting.”
The country has a very low voter turnout among the youths and those living in urban areas.
This is however, different from Zanu PF’s rural stronghold Mashonaland provinces where voter turnout is much bigger.
Meanwhile, Chamisa denied his party was in secret talks with Zanu PF factions.
“We are not interested in factions within Zanu. Our issue is to make sure that we win,” he said.
Ousted Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland West, Temba Mliswa has often criticised the opposition strategy to seek close alliances while ignoring their Zanu PF rivals.
Mliswa, now independent legislator for Norton, has insisted no election can ever be worn against Zanu PF without opponents luring ruling party loyalists.
Theories have also been constructed, linking MDC-T factions to a coalition involving vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa and some MDC-T politicians on the promise of top government posts.
The claims have not been proven although analysts say they remain a possibility on the country’s highly unpredictable electoral landscape.
But Chamisa denied his party would enter into any marriages of convenience with disgruntled Zanu PF elements in attempts to boost its chances of winning the 2018 elections.
He said they were planning to lure war veterans into the coalition.
“We are not working with factions,” Chamisa said.
“We don’t believe that war veterans are factional. We believe that war veterans represent a sentiment and when talking to war veterans, we are talking to a group that represents the history of our country and who are custodians of where we are coming from, giving them the due regard for their sacrifices.
“They are also part of the people who are not happy with the missing link and we need to speak to them.
“We are speaking to war veterans and I tell you the war veterans are going to play a pivotal role in securing our future as they have secured our past and our present.
“So, it’s not just a question of individuals, we are not interested in some of the individuals.”