CIOs Use COVID-19 To Arrest Voter Registration Campaigners In Gweru
18 November 2021

THE director for Project Vote263, Youngster Matete, was on Tuesday arrested in Gweru at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) offices and charged with illegally gathering people for purposes of registering them to vote.

Matete was arrested together with Allan Chipoyi, the chairperson of the non-governmental organisation.

It is alleged that they mobilised transport for about 30 people in Mkoba constituency and ferried them to Zec offices so that they could register to vote.

The people were dispersed before they could register.

Upon our arrival at the Zec district offices with not more than 30 people from Mkoba, who we were assisting to register to vote, two State agents in casual clothes approached me and Matete, and interrogated us over why we illegally transported so many people, breaking COVID-19 restrictions.

We were then arrested for illegally gathering at the Zec offices. The rest of the people were sent back home without registering to vote,” Chipoyi told Southern Eye yesterday.

The pair was detained at Gweru Central Police Station and later released.

“Matete was asked to pay $3 000 as fine and I was released without paying,” Chipoyi said, adding that State agents and police had been watching their voter mobilisation programme.

However, Chipoyi said the arrest would not deter them from continuing with mobilising people to register to vote ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“We are a non-partisan organisation yearning for freedom in our country. We remain unshaken, and we will continue assisting Zimbabweans to carry out the constitutionally-mandated obligation of voting through provision of transportation facilities to them in order for them to register to vote,” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi were fruitless as he was not answering his phone.

Chipoyi said his organisation was aiming to have at least three million people registered to vote.

The Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation and the opposition MDC Alliance party have also been undertaking programmes to get people throughout the country to register to vote as the country gears for elections.