Harare – A youth based group has been launched a campaign which aims to encourage Zimbabwean youths to take part in the country’s electoral processes
Zimbabwean youths, who constitute the majority in the national population, have remained a largely indifferent group when it came to participating in elections.
Previous efforts by NGOs to attract them to national processes using musical shows by popular musicians have registered minimal success.
However, as the country approaches the 2018 elections, youth groups, under the umbrella National Association of Youths Organisations (NAYO) on Tuesday launched a fresh campaign to attract them to polling booths.
The campaign, tagged “Leave No Youths Behind”, saw organisations from all the country’s ten provinces gracing the occasion held in the capital.
The campaign will run under four pillars, “go mobilise, go educate, go register and go vote” and aims to secure youth participation either as candidates or as the electorate.
Youths in Zimbabwe are often used by older politicians for campaigns some of which often turn violent, but have been a largely anonymous lot when it came to voting.
NAYO director Misheck Gondo acknowledged that fear of violence has kept youths away from participating in electoral processes as the electorate or as an candidate.
However, he said the organisation intends to meet political parties and encourage them to sign a peace pledge committing them to violent free elections.
“This group is going to engage the political party leaders, from the ruling party to what is called the smallest party and preach the gospel of peace as we have integrated peace to our campaign,” Gondo explained.
At the sidelines of the launch, Young Voters Platform coordinator Desmond Sharukai said the initiatives by NAYO will help redefine the narrative between elections and violence in Zimbabwe.
“We have always advocated for a violence free election and we believe the efforts by NAYO together with what we are doing as Young Voters Platform will go a long way, because we are trying to reconfigure this stereotype that an election comes with violence,” Sharukai said..
Zinasu secretary general Makomborero Haruzivishe said the campaign has a rapid response desk that will deal with threats of violence or violence during the pre election, election and post election period.
“We are have a rapid response desk which we have engaged key institutions like Zimbabwe peace project and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and we have also have emergency numbers of the key institutions such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” Haruzivishe said.
He added that the campaign will target all youths across the political divide as the challenges the youths face are similar regardless to one’s political affiliation.
“The campaign will include all youths despite political background or political affiliation because unemployment doesn’t only affect youths from political party A or political party B. When there are no jobs or no access to education youth suffer despite their political affiliation,” he said.
The campaign that will be run country wide is targeting two million youths to vote come 2018 general elections.