Zimbabwe: Youth Vote Key in 2023 Elections

Young people who are eligible to register to vote are taking an active role in the registration process as the country gears up for the 2023 elections.

In the past, young people have too often snubbed the voting and election processes.

Through some advocacy work being done by the Election Resource Centre (ERC), more youths have been open to having their vote counted.

The ERC, among other organizations, have been doing community outreach programs targeting young people in schools, colleges and universities.

Young people are expected to play a significant role in this year’s election as more than 2.3 million youths in Zimbabwe are without jobs.

The latest statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) present a gloomy picture of the country’s unemployment levels, effectively contradicting the repeated claim by the government that unemployment is under control.

This is the demographic touted by some pro-democracy activists and opposition political parties as having the clout to change the country’s political and economic future through registering to vote, yet the majority have been hit by voter apathy, as Afrobarometer found in a study last year.

The 2.3 million represents about half of the young people ranging from 15 to 34 years, according to Zimstat.

Like Robert Mugabe before him, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged young people to create employment opportunities for themselves.

The post-Mugabe administration has increasingly pointed young people to activities such as mining but youthful illegal artisanal miners have found themselves — and lost lives — in bloody turf wars.

Meanwhile, according to CITE Zimbabwe, youths who attended a recent virtual public hearing session held by the Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to discuss the Electoral Amendment Bill, 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.

This year’s election will be watershed as it will see the election of the ten youth members of the National Assembly referred to in section 124(1)(c) of the Constitution.