ZIMBABWE’S electoral democracy is in danger, as most youths are excluded from elections either through disenfranchisement or failure to contest for public office despite being the majority population, the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) has said.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
In a report titled Framing the debate: Youth voter registration in Zimbabwe in preparation for 2018 elections released on the eve of Independence Day, RAU said there was need to move away from “electoralism” and the focus must be on the meaningfulness of the elections.
“The youth make up about 41% of the eligible voters, but only constitute 14% of the registered voters in Zimbabwe. Thus, the youth are largely excluded from democratic governance processes. They vote in less numbers than older age groups and fewer young people stand as candidates in local and national elections,” RAU said.
“Zimbabwe also has a very large demographic youth bulge, with over 75% of the population under 35 years, which this has ramifications for policy and welfare of the young.”
The think-tank noted that a voters’ roll that excludes such huge numbers of disenfranchised Zimbabweans was an inaccurate record of the eligible voters and inevitably, elections conducted using such a voters’ roll were an invalid claim of the Zimbabweans choice of leaders.
“The Zimbabweans that are allowed to register and vote should be concerned about the exclusion of eligible voters, who are being improperly excluded from the eligibility criteria,” RAU pointed out.
“Too much focus on mere voting in elections and not on the benefits of participating in those elections leads to disillusionment in the process. For many young people the questions that need to be answered are: Is there a youth agenda that needs to be heard? Which contestants in the elections are focusing on government effectiveness and do the youth know about those contestants’ ideologies?”