Recognition of youth as voting population
Politicians across the country focus on July or August, 2018 as the most important date of the upcoming presidential election.
To our country’s discredit, most of the youth will not show up at the polls, and few of those who do will have been adequately educated on the candidates or their platforms.
New Zimbabwe Democratic Change Founder/President said, “The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society and any restrictions of that right strike at the heart of representative government.” Though few laws may restrict young voters, they are bridled by ignorance. Two things must transpire before Zimbabweans my boast of true democracy.
Politicians must recognize the youth as a viable voting population, and the youth must become that voting population. A symbiotic relationship must be formed between these groups. At present, young voters are uninformed on candidates, and candidates are unconcerned with them. Our country may try countless gimmicks to draw in voters, but only a mental connection between candidate and voter will have a lasting affect on Zimbabwean politics.
Politicians should look at the events that have shaped our lives during the past 37 years; each day since our birth has been important in determining our values and needs. This generation has seen the effects of the crumbling of the Great Zimbabwe Wall, and of the Zanu PF. It has seen its fathers and mothers board aircraft headed for the Asia. This generation is not blind.
But Zimbabwe’s youth must come to the realization that it is responsible for using its knowledge of these events. It is responsible for using its power of vote. However, this generation needs to be given a reason to vote. Students’ eyes need to be opened to government as a living mechanism, real to them in everyday life. Government classes are attended with boredom because they simply present a list of facts, having little tangible importance.
Students need to be made aware of issues that affect them. Many would be impassioned to vote through an understanding that the Revolutionary war cry, is applicable today. All students if they do not vote, then they are unrepresented.
As solitary voters, many young Zimbabweans feel impotent and ineffective. Few know of the many elections that were won and lost by a few votes. They must be taught of former Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, the MDC-T 2013 Presidential candidate who, in 2008 won but the army together with Zanu PF did everything within their power to rig the election and they did a won. The same thing that happened in 2013, Morgan thought he had won 1,172,349. He later accepted the results when he found out that Robert Mugabe had surpassed him 2,110,434 votes. Rather than winning by few votes, Morgan lost by few votes.
Once students have a desire to vote, politicians are accountable for making contact with them. All candidates running for the presidency should be required to visit high schools with the intent of discussing current political issues with the students. These interviews should be aired across the country and viewed in other classrooms by satellite. Countless classroom discussions could be sparked from these interviews. In discussing the issues themselves, students would feel more involved in politics and be more apt to vote. By taking the time to acknowledge students and the issues they face, politicians would be telling students that they matter.
First, politicians must be aware of issues that are important to the student population, such as computer illiteracy. Thousands of students leave high school inadequately prepared to function in the technological world in which they live.
They do not have access to computers at home, and their schools have limited resources. These students are placed at a great disadvantage to those who are exposed to the Internet on a daily basis. Others struggle with the financial aid system, and are frustrated with the lack of support they and their teachers receive from the nation. And more importantly, many have a growing fear of instability in our country. Students are shocked by news of high school violence and want to know what will be done about these repeated tragedies.
They government of Zimbabwe was created by, and for the people who populate it. Young Zimbabweans have the right and the responsibility to be represented.
It will take the cooperation of both politicians and the voters themselves to create a democracy all Zimbabweans can be proud of.