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Youths’ vote can sway 2018 election

By Blessing Kasiyamhuru

As the 2018 general election fast approaches, Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity (ZIPP) challenges the youths in Zimbabwe to rise up and vote in numbers as this crucial vote will help shape their future.

The first step is for them to register to vote and show up to vote on Election Day.

While young voters in the past have been comfortable in apathy neglecting the importance of voting, they should realise that  their voice is an important one because democracy doesn’t work without citizen participation. Their vote does matter, so much so because history has shown that a collective youth vote could actually sway an election.

Voting gives the youths the power to make important choices as they decide what they like, don’t like, and their voices are heard. If they fail to vote they are yielding the ultimate power to adults to make decisions about the leaders and laws that will shape and lead society for decades.

It is always essential that young Zimbabweans take advantage of their right to vote, creating a future that aligns with their fundamental beliefs and setting a precedent for future generations.

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Regrettably, ZIPP has noticed that in the past the youth in Zimbabwe have not used their huge numbers at the ballot box to shape political and socio-economic decisions. Interestingly, the youths are known to complain about issues that affect them yet squander opportunities to influence the election of people who share their aspirations.

The majority of the youths today are walloping in poverty as the country witnesses high unemployment levels believed to be hovering over 90 percent which if unchecked, will be a disaster in waiting for the government. They also still face a host of other challenges, including limited access to entrepreneurship opportunities and credit for setting up businesses.

It is not a secret that high unemployment levels in Zimbabwe are quite undesirable especially after President Robert Mugabe’s 2013 election promise to deliver more than two million jobs by 2018 that has not come to pass.

While every year Zimbabwe produces an estimated 300 000 graduates from its 16 universities plus others coming out of polytechnic colleges, nursing schools, teacher colleges and apprenticeships, the country’s floundering economy that is starved of investment and job creation can scarcely absorb a fraction of them.

This paints a grim picture of many young people with no source of income and no future to look forward to.

It is against this background that ZIPP urges all the unemployed youths to take time out and exercise their only hope for a better future, which is to vote for a government that will address their employment needs.

Young voters who want to inspire change need to show their support for the candidates whom they feel best represent their needs because no one else is going to vote in the interest of young people except young people.

In particular, the youths not only should they practice their right to vote but the right to be voted for into office themselves. Zipp, therefore, offers this opportunity as a youthful party to all youths that aspire to be leaders and policy makers of the future government of Zimbabwe  in 2018.

Voting and being voted for or supporting the candidates that includes youths of their choice is effective youth participation in politics.

ZIPP urges government, Zimbabwe Election Commission, NGOs, political parties, churches and learning institutions to create enough awareness among the youth as to why they should vote.

It is only in Zimbabwe that we have an organisation like Zimbabwe Coalition of Unemployed Graduates formed by jobless but highly qualified youths. The coalition has since presented a petition to the Parliament of Zimbabwe highlighting their dissatisfaction with the state of the economy.

We also challenge Zimbabwe Coalition of Unemployed Graduates to mobilise its wide membership to register and vote.

Zanu PF government is struggling to deal with a worsening unemployment crisis as companies collapse, hence our call for youths to use the only weapon still in their possession – the vote.

Local companies have resorted to retrenchment for business sustainability and survival while others have been forced to restructure and downsize as a direct response to low capacity utilisation and product demand.

Over time, the increase in retrenchments has seen unemployment figures rising.

For the few companies still operating, foreign currency to buy new equipment has been a challenge and as a result companies are forced to use obsolete machinery susceptible to frequent breakdowns.

As a government in waiting ZIPP has the advantage of a pool of known professional human resource base; graduates that are jobless – be they teachers, nurses, engineers  that we shall absorb into employment through facilitating an environment conducive for creating the necessary jobs.

*Kasiyamhuru is President ZIPP.