Civil society organisations have responded to poor youth participation in the just-ended by-elections by exploring ways to increase the youth vote

by Mabel Khumalo

A review of the by-Elections by the organisations revealed various reasons behind the disappointing youth participation in electoral processes.

Speaking at a post-by-Election Round Table meeting held at Bulawayo Club hosted by Community Podium and Cite, National Youth Development Trust Director Sibusisiwe Dube said it was worrying that young people consitute a paltry number of registered voters as most people on the voters roll were born between 1947 and 1990.

“Most youths are not able to participate due to lack of IDs.It is regrettable that some young people were not aware that there were by-Elections. I think we have been going to the wrong places trying to talk to them. They go to places such as pubs and moving forward we should consider going to those places where most of them are found,” she said.

Dube added that there was  need to embrace the fourth industrial revolution in form of self-registration facilities for youths as they spend most of their time on the internet.

Ekhaya Vote Spokesperson, Nkosikhona Dibiti attributed the low voter turnout to a significant number of people who were turned away because they had either brought the wrong identity documents or turned up at wrong polling stations. 

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association Secretary for Administration Thembelani Dube said the Ministry of Home Affairs and  ZEC must work together and synchronise the registration system.

 “If someone obtains  an ID,   they should automatically be registered to vote. Most youths do not have the patience to wait in long queues to register to vote,”  he said.

A youth representative from  NUST said voter education and the electoral process should be included in the learning curriculum at tertiary institutions and that candidates and contesting parties should package their message in a way that would attract young people. She added that political parties could attract and inspire youths by fielding youthful candidates.

Women’s Institute for Leadership Development Programs Manager, Permanent Ngoma said the solution partially lies in  conducting continuous voter education, the introduction of online registration, and increased efforts from civic organisations and government to encourage youth participation.

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