Youths speak out about elections

With everyone talking about potential elections in Zimbabwe, a group of young people representing Youth Forum went to Denmark to outline the key challenges of voting in their home country.

The visit was facilitated by Africa Contact and included several public meetings where issues such as the role of young people in an inclusive constitution making process, the national development of Zimbabwe and EU sanctions could be discussed.

Formed in 2004, the Youth Forum strives to ensure that young people in Zimbabwe are at the forefront of engineering policy and political reforms.
Sixty-seven percent of the country’s population are aged 18-30 and yet only 18 percent of people in this age group turned out to vote in the 2008 elections.

Apathetic youths

This figure shows how apathetic young people are towards political issues such as elections. The Youth Forum has been working hard to tap into what it terms the ‘vote bank’ of young people in the country who have lost faith in the electoral process.

There is a need to restore confidence in the youth in order for them to realise that Zimbabwe can only move out of its current mess if they come out in numbers and vote in the coming elections. 
The international and national community also need to pay attention to the ‘sanction’ discourse that Zanu (PF) is using to scuttle major reforms in Zimbabwe.

If no reforms are made before the next elections, Zanu (PF) will get away with electoral fraud. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for the suspension of sanctions until after the elections. This clearly indicates the dilemma that faces the international community. Removing the sanctions would send the wrong signals to the people of Zimbabwe who perceive this as a way of rewarding Zanu (PF)’s intransigence in the Global Political Agreement. On the other hand, ignoring the sanctions debate means that Zanu (PF) is being allowed to get away with murder.

Danish interventions

The meetings in Denmark showed the support that the Danish government has offered the constitution making body in Zimbabwe. Interventions suggestedwere things like voter education and mobilisation. This should target young people and youth organisations to enable them to reach out to their peers.

Revolutions in other African countries e.g. Egypt clearly show that the youth hold the keys to the future of any nation. President Obama made a massive appeal to the youth vote and it paid off.
It is time that the young people of Zimbabwe spoke up. – Youth Forum and Africa Contact

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