THERE was drama in Glen Norah yesterday when the Zimpapers-owned Star FM allegedly refused to broadcast live a Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) voter-registration campaign launch despite being paid in full for the services.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The Star FM crew arrived and set up their equipment with their DJs ready to broadcast live before an order was received to pack their items and leave as soon as they could.
TZ officials tried in vain to convince the crew to go ahead with the live broadcasts per contract, arguing that they had paid for the service and had a right to be treated fairly as a political party.
In response, the crew insisted that they had been advised to leave as police had not cleared the live broadcast.
Despite numerous phone calls and pleas to stay, the Star FM crew left the venue in a huff, leaving TZ officials and the hundreds of people who had turned up, furious.
“I’m in fact very cross and angry over what happened today. What government has done is to take away people’s rights. It is our right as citizens to access all forms of media, both private and public, but what they have done is to rob us of these rights, which they have completely monopolised,” TZ leader, Jacob Ngarivhume said.
“It’s only Zanu PF that must appear on our media and that is unacceptable. This is what we are also fighting for under the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera).
“This is a shame and one of the things we must fight completely as citizens.”
Opposition political parties in Zimbabwe always accuse state-owned media outlets of shutting them out while maintaining a strong bias towards Zanu PF.
Ngarivhume said yesterday’s programme fell under the banner of their “Stop Blaming and Start Acting” campaign.
“This is the launch of our voter registration campaign and all we are saying is that we are encouraging Zimbabweans to register to vote and make sure that after registration, they follow through to see if their names appear in the voters’ roll.
“That is a very important process of the voter registration process,” he said.
“This programme is supposed to be run by the electoral mother body Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but they are not doing it.
“They haven’t done so because they want to leave too small and too little a time before the election to give people the opportunity to register to vote.”
He added: “This is a very important process, which must not be squeezed a few months before the elections. We want to make sure that we galvanise as many people [as possible]when there is a still a lot of time for them to register to vote.”
Ngarivhume said there was a good response from first-time voters and by 2018, TZ was targeting to reach over five million people.
TZ secretary-general, Assan Mtembo said the party would assist people facing challenges to acquire the necessary documents to allow them to vote.
Election Resource Centre officials also addressed people and explained the biometric voter registration.
Several officials from Nera gave solidarity messages, saying they needed to ratchet up pressure on ZEC to even the playing field.
Zimbabwe Devine Destiny leader, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya said it was important for Zimbabweans to learn more of the biometric voter registration and their right to vote.
“Zimbabweans can decide their destiny,” he said. “In the past we always had just around three million people involved in the voting process but we actually claim we have about 14 million people in Zimbabwe.
“What it means is that we have a huge number of potential voters who are not involved.”