2018 ELECTIONS: THE YOUTH LOBBY

The Zimbabwean Constitution (Amendment 20) of 2013 section 20 speaks about Youths.

 

Under section 20 the supreme law explicitly states that:

 

(1) The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take reasonable measures, including affirmative action programmes, to ensure that youths, that is to say people between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five years

(a)  have access to appropriate education and training;
(b) have opportunities to associate and to be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life;
(c) are afforded opportunities for employment and other avenues to economic empowerment;
(d) have opportunities for recreational activities and access to recreational facilities; and
(e) are protected from harmful cultural practices, exploitation and all forms of abuse.

 

Under the same section, the constitution also states that:

 

(2) An Act of Parliament may provide for one or more national youth programmes.
(3) Measures and programmes referred to in subsections (1) and (2) must be inclusive, non- partisan and national in character.

 

 

2018 Voter Demographics

 

The Zimbabwean electorate arguably consists of the following sub-groups:

 

(a) The non-voter that is apathetic and does not care about politics.

(b) The stable voter whose vote is partisan and constant.

(c) The unstable voter who cares little about politics and votes erratically.

(d) The stable voter with high level of information. (S)he has a moderate knowledge of politics and votes consistently.

(e) The highly informed unstable voter, who makes his own decision at each moment.

 

 

Now what’s interesting about the 2018 election is that the outcome will largely be influenced by the youth vote.

 

 

This is because approximately 60% of eligible voters are below the age of 35, while  only about 7-8% of eligible voters are 60 years old and above.

 

 

This contrast in numbers is stark, because ostensibly, the 7-8% demographic still holds the majority of positions in business and politics while the 60% majority lives a general life of underemployment and substance abuse.

 

 

This condition has created what economists and sociologists refer to as a high “age dependency ratio” in Zimbabwe.

 

 

Nevertheless, this also means that the outcome of the 2018 election will largely be determined by voters under 35 (the majority of which are women).

 

 

Interestingly, the high rate of rural-urban migration over the last five years has seen an increase in the population in Harare Metropolitan province, to the extent that voters in Harare Metropolitan Province could determine the outcome of the 2018 elections.

 

 

This is because Harare Province had 800 000 registered voters in 2013, and come 2018 Harare Province may see over one million registered voters casting their ballots.

 

 

With a total of around 3 million national votes cast in the last election, this makes Harare Province one of the key electoral battle zones come 2018, because Harare province alone carries close to one third of the national vote.

 

 

Now, since we’ve determined that the youth vote will play the biggest role in seeing who wins in 2018, here are a few important points that politicians should consider as they campaign and attempt to convince youths to vote for them come 2018.

 

 

 

 

Key Electoral Points

 

  • Employment

 

 

 If anything, urban unemployment is apparent for all to see.

 

 

In fact the “informal sector” as we call it seems to have outgrown the formal sector particularly in Harare.

 

 

This means that touts, vendors, “mucheka cheka” drivers, broncleer and other drug dealers, prostitutes, car washers, currency traders, shabeen owners, air time and newspaper sellers and others who trade illicitly and informally are more in number than those who are in formal jobs in Harare.

 

 

Unfortunately it is not enough to tell these people that jobs will be created after 2018 because they have been told that before.

 

Instead, it makes sense to take cue from countries like Lesotho, South Africa and Kenya where there is a loud and clear lobby for the youth to form consortiums and accordingly pitch for a percentage of government tenders and top positions in parastatals .

 

These tenders should be given to youth consortiums   according to the ratio represented by the youth in the country, in other words 60% of tenders should be allocated to youth consortiums,  and 60% of high level parastatal positions should be allocated to the youth in line with section 20 of the constitution.

 

It just doesn’t make sense that 7-8% of the population (that is those over sixty) should hold the majority of key government positions when 60% of the population are under 40.

 

 

  • Accommodation

 

 

One thing that I have observed in both high and low density areas of Harare, is that the prevalence of the youth live with their parents sometimes up to the age of 40.

 

 

Whether or not our politicians want to acknowledge this, it must be observed that it is an uncomfortable and untenable situation.

 

 

I often hear parents who started working just after independence openly stating that they owned their own cars and houses by the time that they were 30 years old.

 

 

With that in mind, our politicians need be answerable and explain to the electorate why they can’t give people the same opportunities today, and what solutions they have to the problem of accommodation which is a key electoral point particularly in Harare province.

 

 

  • Factionalism/Tribalism

 

 

Most young people who are born free (that is, born after 1980) barely understand racism, let alone factionalism and tribalism.

 

 

From my analysis of the grassroots, factionalism seems to be a game largely influenced by the minority 7-8% of the population (those above the age of 60).

 

 

Young people generally don’t care about who is from what region or which faction etc. They are more concerned about good leadership and progress.

 

 

Young people are concerned about money in their pockets, accommodation, being able to live decent lives and being able to raise their children.

 

 

It is important that politicians acknowledge this as we approach 2018, because the politicians that work for the betterment of the youth today, will not only be handsomely rewarded in the 2018 election but also in 2023.

 

 

The fact is that the 7-8% voter group of 60 and above have played their part in business and politics, but are now a minority and must give room for the majority youth lobby.

 

 

It is in that context that I support the ongoing Youth Interface meetings, yet I hope that all the political rhetoric we have been hearing surrounding the well-being of youths is supported by practical political will and action.

 

 

After all, section 20 of the constitution acknowledges the rights of the youth. Come 2018, let’s hope our politicians will do the same.

 

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

 

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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