“No Election without a clear consultative Road Map” – Gwanda Youths

Youths in Gwanda have called for a more youth inclusive consultative election road map. This came out in a consultative youth meeting held by National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) under the title, Zimbabwe’s Impending Elections: Youths Perspectives.

 

Amongst other things, this particular meeting aimed at providing a platform for youths to discus the current dispensation in the country and how as youths they can influence decisions in the country.

The youths highlighted that it is very much imperative for them to have an input in the Election Road map as they are one of the major stakeholders. The current state of affairs has relegated decision issues to influential political players and in the process leaving the youths to succumb to the dictates of the few . The Election Road Map has been viewed as creation crafted by the interested parties that formed the GPA with no consultations and inputs even from the lower echelons in their structures. The youths therefore, pointed out that the roadmap lacks ownership from the people, particularly the majority youths, as it was crafted by the few elite.

 

Young people further pointed out that the cases of inadequate or lack of consultations from politician on national issues was the major cause of failed government policies and projects. The Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) implemented under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was for instance criticized as a useless exercise eating deep into tax payers money with little or nothing to show for its existence. The youths noted that there has been a limited youth consultative initiative from such offices thus their role has remained minimal or non-existent at all. As a measure to alleviate this, the youths stressed the need for a neutral body to facilitate the national healing process.

 

Similarly, the youths stated that there is need for civic society to engage young people on issues relating to voter education as this would also act as a push for youth participation in the upcoming elections. There is undoubtedly a serious need for intervention at the highest level of leadership in light of youth apathy in past electoral processes. Zimbabwean leaders need to address a number of issues that affect youth participation in elections which include fear of intimidation, general lack of information, the lack of necessary documentation and the cumbersome voter registration process. Participants spelt out that these issues need to be factored into the consultative election road map.

 

Above all, the youths stated that they need to be pro-active in election processes so as to influence key decisions in the country. They added that their participation needs to be noted and their presence felt as they contribute the largest constituency in the country. This would have a long term impact of ensuring that the youths elect responsible leadership that is people centered. NYDT is holding various community based meetings around Matabeleland North and South to gather youth views on what they feel must be the prerequisites for elections to be held in Zimbabwe.

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