A call has been made to the youths in Zimbabwe to shun away sponsored political violence and be the agents of peace in the upcoming 2023 elections, this publication can reveal.
During the previous political campaigns Zimbabwean Youth have been hired by different political parties, and instead of getting involved in explaining policies to the electorate they are found intimidating opponents and voters. They are paid in form of alcohol and money and are commanded to go around the constituencies disrupting meetings of rival parties and intimidating opposition voters. They further terrorize innocent Zimbabweans, brutalise opposition supporters, force people to buy political party membership cards and they have also been fingered in politically motivated murders.
“There is need for us young people to learn about humanity, being humanitarian will help us as young people to fight against politically motivated violence. We will be able to defend one another regardless of our political statuses, and also as young people we need to be united like what the older generation used to be during the Chimurenga war which brought independence in 1980. Through unity we can do away with politically motivated violence, and support one another, this will help us to participate freely in the electoral process,” said one young person who identified himself as Brendon Malaba.
Another young person who identified herself as Tulani Phiri from Kwekwe told this publication that as young people they are living in fear of political violence especially this coming election period and this has also affected their interest to participate in the electoral process.
“Most of us as young people in Zimbabwe we approach election with fear and uncertainty because of the political violence that has been experienced in our communities during the past years, and some of us have witnessed these political violence manifesting in different form in our communities. This is rather a sad situation because we are interested in taking part in the election process but the violence pushes us away. So I think the political parties should practice mature politics where there is no intimidation or terrorisation on another party. Parties are supposed to campaign freely, and they should also get enough coverage on the national news platforms that involves television and radio,” she said.
Speaking in an interview with this reporter McDonald Munyoro from the National Association of Youth Organizations (NAYO) said that as the nation head torwards 2023 elections history tell us that towards electoral period incidences of politically motivated violence increases in different parts of the country with the youths at the forefront of the violence. While urging the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the government to come up with programs that ensure the protection of youths from all forms of exploitation and cultural practices that are harmful to the youths during elections.
“As we head towards the 2023 elections, Zimbabwean history tell us that towards electoral period incidences of politically motivated violence increases in our communities and as they increase we tend to see more and more young people being at the forefront of this violence while encouraged by their politicians.
“If we are to look at the Zimbabwe situation, there is an issue of unemployment which is high within the youths, and issues of access to social services. It is difficult to access these services for young people, our young people are marginalized in many ways, exploited and in many ways. They are also disempowered, so as we reach the 2023 elections it is important to us as CSOs, the government and other actors in development to be guided by section 20 of the constitution which mandates the government come up with programs that ensure the protection of youths from all forms of exploitation and cultural practices which are harmful to them,” said Munyoro.
The demographics of Zimbabwe shows that youths makes approximately sixty-eighty percent of the Zimbabwean population which own its own signifies a youth bulge in the sense that there is a significant number of young people who depend on either the state, their parents or their society to take them, this means that a normal youth in an ordinary community is prone to many vulnerabilities which include politically motivated violence.
Munyoro said Political violence has become a subculture in Zimbabwe and it is a culture that has to be challenged, and fought against because young people are being recruited into political violence in different communities of the country and their rights are also being infringed upon.
“Major political parties have got youth wings, we need programs that brings together these youth wings to dialogue, and bring them together internally to begin to put mechanism, and framework for peace in their political parties. It must be an abomination for a young person in a political part to violate the other person from another political part, and also our political parties need to introspect into the culture, values and ethos which they reproduce in society. You can imagine a scenario where a leader of a political party does slogans in a way that lead to violence,” said Munyoro.
Elections are an important mechanism in democratic and peace processes with the purpose to provide citizens with an opportunity to choose freely their political leaders and allocate power peacefully but history has proven that during the past years in Zimbabwe elections have been accompanied by violence which has resulted in most young people losing interest to participate in politics.