Most first time Zimbabwean youth voters not registering to vote

By William Milasi

Most Zimbabwean youths are not showing enthusiasm to register to vote in the coming 2023 elections.

With a few months to the country’s harmonised elections, political parties have been encouraging youths to register to vote as youths are believed to be a major component in the coming elections.

“I registered to vote when I was 19 years old and now I am 21 and I am going to vote for the first time. This is an important election in which as youths we are major players, our vote really matter. For all the youths who are yet to register I would like to encourage them to register,” a first time voter Enock Phiri from Kwekwe said in an interview.

Another youth from the same city Rufaro Saizi (21) said long queues either at the national registry ton acquire national identity documents, or voting are very discouraging.

“The queues were very long and this was discouraging for some youths they would lesve without registering. However, this is an important election especially for our generation as we have a lot of expectations so I waited for my turn to register,” she said.

Director of the Zimbabwe Organisation for Youths in Politics (ZOYP) which is based in Kwekwe Nkosilathi Moyo said the voter apathy being exhibited by youths is very worrying.

“We are concerned about how young people are reluctant to register to vote. From the available statistics we have realised that a few youths are registering. As an organisation we work with young people, we have tried to engage them to get the source of this apathy. Youths have a general attitude towards elections. They indicated that successive elections in Zimbabwe have failed to change the socio-political situation therefore, therefore, their argument is then what’s the use of voting. We have also realised that they are failimng to register to vote due to lack of national identity documents, though concerted efforts have been made to address the issue,” he said.

A young political leader based in Kwekwe, Kudakwashe Gwamuri said the coming elections are very important for the youths.

“This is a young people’s election. Young people must rise and vote. Every generation has its own struggle, the yester year youths were focused on the liberation struggle, the focus of the youths today is to win Zimbabwe for change. It is important for young people to register to vote. We have realised that young people do not have national identity documents which will enable them to vote, in Zimbabwe it is easy for a dead person to get an identity document than it is for the youths to get those documents. This has caused young people not register to vote and I believe this is a deliberate move to bar young people from participating in national activities mostly elections. We have made it a generational call for young people to encourage each other that they get IDs so that they vote,” he said.

An election advocacy group the Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust Director Igantiuos Sadziwa concurred and said young people are reluctant to participate.

‘The youths constitute a large chunk of the people, they make 70% of the national population. From 2017 up to date we have seen only 200 000 youths registered to vote as first time voters against a possible 2 million. We have a large number of people who are unregistered. ZEC is mainly to be blamed for this apathy. We haven’t seen it carrying out an effective voter registration and voter education campaign. Political parties are also to blamed for this apathy as they have failed to articulate the issue of voter registration to the youths. Maybe to curb this, we need to have a situation whereby, if one is issues a national identity document, then they automatically become registered voters,” he said.

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