A group of young Zimbabweans under the banner of Project Vote 263 have deplored the prevailing economic situation for hindering youths from participating in country’s electoral processes as voters and candidates.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Tuesday, Project Vote 263 Director Youngerson Matete said young people’s access to electoral information remains constrained with the 2023 harmonised elections less than one year away, while appealing the government to ensure ZEC is fully capacitated to carry out its constitutional duties.
“This information deficiency has promoted apathy and passive engagement and participation of young people in electoral process, limiting their agency to influence electoral outcomes,” he said.
Matete appealed to young people to present themselves for public office and not delegate that responsibility to anyone else.
“Young people are locomotives of change, and we implore them to be the change they desire and to also present themselves for public office as we believe that young people are leaders of today and tomorrow.
“We are however, aware of the prevailing economic situation that has left youth impoverished and is hindering the representation of young people’s interests and priorities,” he added.
Matete further called for the immediate scrapping of Statutory Instrument 143 of 2022 which set new fees for people seeking to contest in elections.
Fellow countrymen, the situation has not been made easy by the recently gazetted SI143/2022 by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that seeks to increase nomination, voters roll, and observation fees. Section 67 and 20 of the Zimbabwe Constitution empower youth to participate in politics regardless of their economic status. As youths, we expect barriers to young people’s participation in electoral processes to be removed, not added,” he said.
“We encourage the government of Zimbabwe to fully capacitate ZEC with requisite funding to enable the institution to carry out its constitutional mandate, pre, during and after elections. ZEC must and should facilitate voter registration by establishing more registration points within reach of target voters,” added Matete while calling for the review of gazetted nomination fees which he said were an impediment to the participation of young people as candidates in the forthcoming harmonized polls.