Ekhaya Vote impressed by increased youth participation

BY Community Podium

Ekhaya Vote is delighted by the increase in youth participation in the just-ended 2023 elections in Zimbabwe. 

This came out during a virtual meeting that was organised by the National Youth Development Trust  (NYDT) yesterday under the theme  “Experiences of young people  in elections.” 

Ekhaya Vote is a consortium of over 30 civil society organisations operating in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South focused on voter education, campaigns and elections awareness.

Ekhaya Vote spokesperson, Nkosikhona Dibiti hailed the increase in youth participation particularly in Bulawayo.

“It was great to see young people queuing outside polling stations. After conducting a massive voter registration campaign we sought to see young people participating in these elections. In Bulawayo, we noted that there were more young people contesting in this election from council to Member of Parliament. This I believe will inspire more young people to participate,” Dibiti 

He went on to pay tribute to electoral-inclined civil society organisations including Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre for deploying youthful observers in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South. 

“I observed that there was a greater chunk of young people deployed to observe the harmonized elections. These processes help co-opt more young people to understand the electoral processes. Young people who were observing have an insight on these elections which is based on lived experiences.”

Dibiti added that young people made up a  huge number of party agents who were deployed by political parties as election agents for their candidates. 

” A case to mention is Cowdray Park where over 80% of the CCC election agents were young people. The MP candidate and one local authority candidate are youths. We saw more young people deployed to be election agents by different political parties, this is a step in the right direction particularly in the inclusion of youths in political spaces,” he said.

 Another participant who resides in Lupane West weighed in to buttress Dibiti’s sentiments by adding that increased youth participation is a source of pride. 

“I was happy to see quite a number of youths participating in the electoral process. Inside the station, as a second time voter, I didn’t feel out of place when I saw 3 youths among the panel of observers. The ratio was 2 females to 1 male. It’s a good start and I’m satisfied.”

Over the years civic society organisations have been challenging the government to capacitate and empower young people to be actively involved in electoral processes as there has been concerning voter apathy amongst the youths in the country. 

In 2021, Kubatana said  “Youth as the largest demographic are the most affected by democratic processes but apathy remains high with youths failing to turn up to participate in elections and governance issues. The lack of participation is a result of a conflation of issues ranging from, restrictive political parties, a general lack of interest, insufficient information that enables participation and insufficient funds to address the electoral and governmental needs of the youth.”

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