Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's former President from 1980 to 2017

What is hindering youth participation in electoral issues?

By Kiamuhetsi Sibanda

Since independence our county has gone through seven electoral cycles. These electoral cycles have been associated with young people being used for campaigns and the dirty work for the politicians, genocides, violence and abductions. This has resulted in most young people absconding anything to do with the electoral processes, breeding a generation that is ignorant of their human rights and the democratic processes.

Ignorance has resulted in the fear of political involvement hence hindering participation of most uninformed youths in the marginalised part of the country. Participating in your country’s electoral process is not about a political party but it is mainly about understanding voting as a human right and how integral it is in a democratic society. Politics has been considered a taboo to youths, this is due to the behaviours associated with elections, and these are violence and abuse of the youths during the campaign period. This fact that the youths are merely considered for decadence in political podiums has resulted in lack of confidence in the system and leadership.

This has resulted in intimidation amongst youth leading to youth inferiority even in political structures. The problem within our country’s political arena is only the elderly males are given so much power than women and the youths, who are ignored and only used as stratagems to campaign and win the election. The youth have, therefore greatly suffered from limited power and mentorship. However, not voting has been a way to detach from the leadership that does not fully acknowledge their abilities and skills in the electoral issues in Zimbabwe.

 

Zimbabwe’s ever failing economy has not just frustrated the youths but it has killed the consideration that, if we don’t take part in nation building through participation in the electoral cycle then we are further damaging what we have left of this country. The search for greener pasture will not solve the problems we have in this country but participation in the electoral cycle will.

 

To resolve and demystify these facts, let it be known that, the paramount change that this country needs will result from the participation of youths in electoral issues. Being critics of our country will not change anything but, youth voter education will result in great change of perceptions. Democracy and the importance of voting should be elaborated in schools, young children should be taught on the values of democracy and elections. Embracing these will play pivotal role in creating a generation that understands how loud and relevant is the voice made by taking part in the electoral processes.




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