Electoral Reforms

Introduction
Unfortunately for one reason or the other, the majority of youths in Zimbabwe is averse to following the electoral process. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been cited as a contributor to this aversion by their neglect/unwillingness to implement the Electoral Act chapter 2:13. ZEC has voter education monopoly and are reluctant to allow civic society to implement this programme. Furthermore, ZEC offices are not open for continuous registration and are only accessible towards election periods, a situation which creates unnecessary congestion and many potential voters either avoid the long wait in the resultant queues or miss the deadlines. Another contributing factor to the youths lethargy to vote, is that some of the electoral laws have not been aligned to the new constitution e.g. the infamous Public Order and Security Act (POSA), a piece of legislation which was introduced in 2002 and amended in 2007 and violates the human right to freedom of association and assembly.
Current Status
During the 2013 national elections only 2.2% of the youths between the ages of 18 and 35 years old who were registered voters, voted. The highest number of voters was found in the age bracket of between 35 and 65 years old and represented 89% of the registered voters, the rest of the voters comprised of registered voters above 65 years old. These figures reflect that the people who follow the electoral process and have a voice regarding leadership are between 35 and 65 years old. Of this age bracket, the majority of the voters are female. It is very disconcerting that the youth constitute 68% of the eligible voters in Zimbabwe and therefore have the numbers to make influential and meaningful impact but they do not vote.
Voter apathy among the youth and indeed the Zimbabwean citizens at large may be blamed on the below contributing factors amongst others:
1. ZEC’s interference and lack of cooperation.
2. The non-alignment of electoral reforms to the Constitution.
3. Fear and intimidation where youths have gone to the extent of running away from their residences during elections only to return home when the elections are over.
4. State machinery is further employed to create an environment of fear and trepidation and to ensure that the Draconian POSA legislature is implemented. The Zimbabwe Republic District Police ZRP (DISPOL) are vested with the powers to approve or deny campaign rallies and meetings to which approval of is always heavily biased towards the ruling party, ZANU PF much to the detriment of opposition parties who are often denied such electoral rights.
5. During elections, it has been noticed that in the rural areas, where the ruling party has the monopoly, youths are assigned duties on Election Day while the elders or parents go and vote, in urban areas many youths instead of voting inadvertently forgo their right to vote, choosing instead to engage in other activities.
1. ZEC’s interference and lack of cooperation.
An example of youths being removed from the voters’ roll was witnessed during the Hurungwe West By-Election of 2015 where more than 5,000 youths were turned away and denied the opportunity to vote as they had for some inexplicable reason been removed from the voters’ roll. However these very same youth, were youth who had previously voted in the National Election of 2013. Where did their names go?
Current Status
One of YARD’s key objectives is “to promote the active participation of youths in Nation building through advocating for electoral reforms and by galvanising the understanding and appreciation of the electoral process of voter education, registration, inspection and participation.”
One of YARD’s key objectives is “to promote the active participation of youths in Nation building through advocating for electoral reforms and by galvanising the understanding and appreciation of the electoral process of voter education, registration, inspection and participation.”
YARD advocates that 40% of legislative office i.e. Councillors, Members of Parliament and Senate should be occupied by youth leaders.
The establishment of YARD structures in the Wards, Constituencies, Districts and Provinces will be instrumental in facilitating for the inclusion of youth candidates in leadership positions.
YARD supports youth candidature in any election.
How YARD plans to mobilise youth voters and youth leadership:
How YARD plans to mobilise youth voters and youth leadership:
2. Voter education regarding the Electoral process is key as many of the youth do not understand that an election is a process and encompasses the following:
i. Voter registration
i. Voter registration
i. Voter registration
iiii. Voter Education
v. Nomination of candidates
vi. The conduct of polls