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Call for youths online self-voter registration

There is a need to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and have self-registration facilities for the youths as they spend most of their time on the internet, National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) director, Sibusisiwe Dube has said.

The sentiments were made at the post-election roundtable held Thursday by the Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE) in collaboration with Community Podium.

Presenting reflections on youth participation in the March 26 by-elections, NYDT Dube said campaign rallies done with many youths attending did not translate into what happened the voting day.

“There were so many campaign rallies, there was this youth vibe, all political parties had this youth vibe and there were so many youths attending these political rallies so the thought that we had all of us was that young people are represented in those rallies this will translate into them going out to vote but when we observed we noticed that there were few young people voting,” said Dube.

She said the youths are the largest population but they are not represented in the governance issues that are meant to affect them and impact their lives negatively or positively.

“I think there was a lack of awareness on the 26-March by-elections. Most people were not aware of what was going on, some people thought they were supposed to vote when they were in different wards that were not even having by-elections, so it was really confusing.”

“Young people are trendy, I think we have been going to the wrong places trying to talk to them, they are trendsetters, they go to these pubs and everything, perhaps moving forward we should be going to those places where a huge number of young people are found,” said Dube.

She added: “As a way forward we should embrace the fourth industrial revolution and have only self-registration facilities. Youths are always on the internet, they can’t be spending a day or an hour in a queue but if you put it on the phone or on WhatsApp or somewhere online where you just click a button and it takes you two minutes, I guarantee you they will register to vote.”

Dube said there is also a need to package the information appropriately and link the civil and political rights to livelihoods and socio-economic rights.

“What we saw on the ground, the rallies, they were so youthful, hyped but they did not translate to what was happening on the ballot boxes in polling stations. There were very few young people who participated, in fact, those who participated were civic society organisations (CSO) ambassadors but the ordinary young person in the streets did not participate and they didn’t even know their constitutional rights. We always assume they do but they do not know that,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dumisani Ncube, a representative from Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said voter education was not strong enough to convince young people to go out and vote.

“There was a challenge of the adequacy of the information. There were also people who chose to abscond when they were requested to present personal details in line with Covid-19 protocols. It’s also a sign that during the voter education both by the ZEC (commission) and CSOs there could have been an omission,” said Ncube.

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