HARARE: In a move that is meant to ensure youth participation in the much-anticipated 2030 poll, Zimbabwean youths in civic spaces have joined hands and summoned Zimbabwe Parliament and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to ensure electoral reform that encourages youth participation.
The united youths under the banner, Youth Coalition Cluster on Electoral Reform, a grouping in the country’s 10 provinces deliberated on key impediments to youths’ participation in elections from which they raised ‘Ten Key Asks’ aimed at promoting youths participation in electoral processes.
The document which is in possession of CommuTalk actually urges the summoned offices to deal with election governance, technological, economic, and access media issues.
“We call upon the government to fully capacitate ZEC with requisite funding to enable the institution to maintain its independence and carry out its constitutional mandate, pre, during, and post-election.
“…that the youth quota though welcome, must never be deemed as an end but the beginning of serious youth inclusion. It must recognize youths with disabilities and it needs to be buttressed by a conducive electoral environment that supports youth candidate’s participation and partaking of young people with disabilities,” reads the document under the governance and elections category.
The category also includes aiming other issues need for decentralizing the issuance of national documents, reconfiguration of the national youth service, and consideration of the diaspora vote.
“…data prices must fall significantly to be affordable to young people…government should never allow for internet shutdowns as the internet has become a need in our context and in context of 2023 elections. Shutting down the internet is akin to restricting freedom of expression itself which is a key element to youth participation,” also reads the document under the technology category.
The same category also highlights that there is a need for government to leverage technology as quickly as possible to allow the integration of its departments to operate online especially the Register General’s office and voter registration.
The document under access to media and economic categories seeks that government facilitates through the national broadcaster fair coverage of young people from across political divides and also urged the government to institute a framework to put in place budgetary caps for those campaigning for political office.
The youths say, ‘…The national broadcaster should not be monopolized by a few people or any individual or political party.”
The youths further say “…uncapped spending on campaigns is akin to vote-buying as those with the financial muscle use their resources to out muscle young people most of them who are not well resourced.”
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has been ordered to craft a Bill amending the Constitution to increase the youth quota in Parliament from the 10% to 25%.
Speaking in Parliament last Thursday, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth chairperson Mathias Tongofa said Ziyambi should submit the Bill to Parliament by year-end.
He was presenting findings by his committee on youth participation in electoral processes.
Tongofa said although President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had created structures that accommodated youth participation and representation, the youth were the majority in the country and there was a need to increase their threshold to 25%.