By Delicious Mathuthu
Youths in the rural areas have been challenged to actively participate in politics and take up political positions in their respective parties and become leaders to influence decision making processes.
This was said by Community Solutions Zimbabwe (CSZ) Programmes Officer, Thulani Brisky Ncube, during a youth engagement meeting held at Pamberi Nekubatana ECD Model Centre near Gambiza growth point in Chiwundura, in the Midlands.
The engagement meeting was meant to educate young people on the essence of actively participating in governance and political processes.
Ncube said it was high time young people took action in partaking in political processes in their different political parties in order to improve their livelihood.
He said politics influences everyday lives and youths should not shy away from taking part and support each other into influential positions wherever they are.
“As young people its high time we actively participate in these things because it is our right.
“Where you are going to get medical attention, who is going to give it to you and how much they will be getting is determined by government, and the government is made of politicians.
“As young people there is no reason why we should say we cannot participate in politics.
“Elections are a way that we show whether we are happy or angry. If you want to show that you are happy about the current government you go and show it through the ballot box and if you are not happy you also go and show it through the ballot box again.
“So politics, whether we want or not, it follows you to your home. Even seated at home it can determine whether you are going to eat or not, whether you are given farming inputs or not, its all politics that will be following you.
“So as young people lets go and participate in these processes. I encourage you to join these politica parties. Right here in Chiwundura I know there active political parties, research that has been done in Zimbabwe shows that its hard for young people to successfuly participate in elections outside political party structures.
“So because of our numbers, lets go there and make sure that we participate, lets occupy leadership positions which are there so that we influence decisions.
“If we are able to influence decisions politically, then we can have a stake in our economy, for example when they are distributing land, it is distributed by those in power and if you are not strategically positioned as youths you will never get that land and you will always be crying; so lets go there and stop getting drunk and doing umjolo.
“For umjolo again you cant do it if you dont have money, and you wont get that money if the country is not okay,” Ncube said.
His sentiments were echoed by Chiwundura Ward 10 Councilor, Resta Muswere, who also attended the engagement meeting going further to say most youths in Chiwundura do not have enough information with regards to governance and electoral processes.
She challenged the young generation to go and register to vote in order to chose the kind of leadership that they want.
“From our different parties, I do believe that when you have a position you will be getting something, so these old guys are after that something whether its money or other things, so you as youths push yourselves so that you get elected and be young leaders and get those benefits,” she said.
“This programe brought by Community Solutions Zimbabwe is a good programme because our youths in the ward had no much information on voting issues.
“Most of them when the programm (meeting) started they were just quiet and started interacting as we progressed. Most of the time people in the rural areas we are way behind on information.
“I am happy because I believe those who have been taught here will go and teach their peers.
“Also looking at the number of people who are going to register to vote, they are very few youths.
“So they have learnt why it is important to vote and I say to young people, lets all go and register to vote so that we choose the kind of leaders we want who can do our wishes,” Councilor Muswere said.
The meeting saw several youths from Gambiza and surrounding areas participating where they highlighted some of the challenges they are facing and possible opportunities and solutions to the problems.
Ncube also educated the youths on the basic documents needed for registering to vote telling them that it is their constitutional right to take part in the electoral process.
One of the young participants, Letwin Sithole said she now knows which documemts are needed to go and register to vote.
“As a young person I have learnt how I can go and register to vote and which documents I need to carry to go and register.
“I need my ID (Identity Document) or passport and even an affidavit from ZEC or a letter from my Councilor or my village head which shows that I am a resident of the ward.
“This Community Solutions meeting has increased my knowledge on the electoral processes as well, and I hope to continue learning,” she said.
Another youth, Onias Ndlovu said they are going to share the knowledge that they received with their peers who did not manage to partake in the engagement meeting.
“We learnt quite a lot about the process of registering to vote and I think from now on we will start registering and also go and inform others who are not yet registered who were unfortunate not to attend the workshop,” he said.
On stereotypical perceptions on rural youths on their knowldge on voting processes, Ndlovu said from the issues discussed during the meeting, he realised that they lack knowledge.
He said most young people in rural areas dont take political processes serious and think it is for elders with nothing to do with them.
Margarette Matende, another young woman who took part in the meeting said, “I am happy because I learnt that we as youths we have voting rights, the right to elect the leaders that we want.
“We have a right to speak out as youths on the challenges we face and choose someone who can represent us and take our problems to the relevant authorities,” she said.
In Zimbabwe, more than 65 percent of the population are young people and more than haff are in the rural areas.
Most political analysts argue that youths have a deciding vote in the usually tightly contested elections in the country, either to cement or seperate candidates if all who are eligible to vote actively participate in elections.