Youths want voter registration age reduced to 16

Instead of waiting until they turn eighteen to be allowed to register as voters, some youths want the voter registration age to be reviewed downwards to sixteen.

Zimbabweans are allowed to obtain an identity document when they turn sixteen and it is a requirement when one wants to register as a voter.

The practice and procedure for voter registration is prescribed in section 17A of the Electoral Act.

Now, the youths who attended the virtual public hearing session held by the Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to discuss the Electoral Amendment Bill, Tuesday, want those who turn sixteen to be allowed to register as voters.

“Can we allow young people to be able to register to vote immediately when they turn 16 and attain national IDs but still vote when they turn 18, for example, what the SA system is currently providing? They register at 16 but vote at 18. It will speak well to our NDS1 chapter 12 principles of increasing youth participation in decision-making,” Brisky Ncube, a participant said.

Another youth, Takaenda Tafirei, shared that he has a brother who is 17 years old this year and is interested in participating in the electoral process but may have to wait until 2028 because of his age.

“I was having a conversation with my brother who is 17 years old. He really is interested in these processes but unfortunately, the President may announce the election date before he turns 18. That means he would have missed this chance of partaking in the voting process. We ask that at least the age for registration be reviewed to 16 to avoid such inconveniences,” he said.

Part of the amendment includes the election of the ten youth members of the National Assembly referred to in section 124(1)(c) of the Constitution, the continued election of 60 women to the National Assembly under a party list, as required by section 124 of the Constitution and the election of women on a party-list basis to provincial councils and local authorities, in line with by section 277(4) of the Constitution.

Raviroyashe Mpasiri suggested that when the youths are chosen, the process be conducted fairly, with every political party being represented and having youths from various economic sectors.

A representative from Albanism Trust of Zimbabwe, Bruce Nyoni, said people with disability must be represented in the youth quota. 

“We need representatives in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission so that our issues can be well addressed. There are various issues we need to address, for example, there is no ballot paper in Braille for the visually impaired.  Those with disabilities are the most marginalised and most vulnerable so we need at least two people to represent us in the youth quota,” Nyoni said.

The youths further noted that holding public consultations on virtual spaces is a disadvantage for those who are in rural areas and do not have access to the internet.

“We need to accommodate people in the rural areas. They do not have access to these platforms. There is no proof that they have access to the information that we are sharing here. How are they going to contribute their input? In the future may we please have these meetings held physically so that everyone may have an opportunity to give their say,” a participant said.

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