As the road to the 2023 national elections gathers momentum, fears are mounting that majority of rural youths will not partake in these elections due to a lack of national registration documents, Community Voices Zimbabwe has learnt.
Results from a media engagement programme held by Community Voices Zimbabwe in Mberengwa East yesterday show that apart from lacking enough knowledge and confidence in the electoral process, youths from Mberengwa rural communities, despite their partial voting enthusiasm, may not be able to vote in the upcoming elections since many of them have no birth certificates and national IDs which are a key requirement in one’s electoral participation.
Speaking at the event, secretary for Murerezi Community Development Trust (MCDT) Wilbert Tatira, said the majority of rural youths in Mberengwa East do not have national registration documents which are needed for one to register to vote.
“Many youths in our communities don’t have IDs, especially this upcoming generation unless until this challenge is addressed there is no hope for their participation in the upcoming elections”, said Tatira.
A community leader, teacher, counsellor and focal person for the Association of the Disabled and Elderly People in Zimbabwe, Primrose Nyangoni, believes that too many complications and challenges in the procurement of national registration documents discourage some parents, especially single parents from obtaining these necessary documents for their children.
“I’m happy with the government’s efforts to eliminate obstacles in the procurement of national registration documents. There shouldn’t be too many complications or too many questions to be asked about parents before one is granted these documents, a mother or just a relative should be enough as a witness to the registrar’s office. Now the challenge is that some of these youths are not even aware of the relaxation of the process requirements and we need to facilitate access to information. I’m fortunate to be one of those people who always look out for information but let’s not assume the youth are aware of this positive development”, she said.
Present at the engagement was also ward councillor Chenjerai Maisva who expressed great worry over the continuously decreasing electoral participation saying the youths are sabotaging their supposed rights.
“The problem is among the youths, they really lack zeal for partaking in these national building programmes, they don’t even attend meetings, Even the developmental meetings we hold you would realise that only the same people come and if one dies the number will drop. No new person comes. This is not good at all and is costing our youth a lot of opportunities”, Maisva said.
Chamunoita Chitandaudze, ward development committee secretary believes that apart from IDs, lack of adequate knowledge on the importance of electoral participation among youths is another crucial challenge which needs to be addressed before the nation commences to 2023 elections.
“Many of the youths have no idea on how important their electoral participation is crucial for national development. They really need enough knowledge about this”, he said.
Chitandaudze added that there is also serious loss of confidence in authorities especially by youths arguable and justifiably arising from the continued neglect of priority issues of the youth. They feel excluded and have become demoralised and demobilised.
“The youths also find partaking in elections meaningless since there is no response from authorities youths’ income project proposals. With this attitude youths are discouraged, the ministry needs to be supportive “, Chitandaudze added.
Tavonga Moyo, one of the youths, buttressed the same sentiments adding that as youths and community at large they are disgruntled by negligence from the authorities
Speaking to Community Voices Zimbabwe, Mberengwa West constituency legislator Mark Raidza said that In terms of our national constitution it is a right for every citizen to have these critical forms of identification that helps the country and individuals concerned on matters of development.
“It is also the right for everyone who is above 18 years to participate in the electoral processes. The government is currently undertaking a blitz from this April until September 2022 issuing these critical documents to our citizens. The government has as well waived all fees as to make the documents affordable and easy to access. With these documents out youth can participate in the electoral processes. ZEC is undertaking the awareness programmes and us as leaders we are on the ground providing educational programs on the importance of these processes”, said Raidza.