While current statistics indicate youth and women make up the majority of Zimbabwe’s registered 5.3 million voters, there is a good number that feel that their participation in politics and governance will not change much.
In February, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that 54,5 percent of the registered voters are women, while 43, 5 percent are the youth aged between 18 and 34 years.
26-year old Charity Pungwe [not her real name] from Harare, says she even though she will participate in the election, she knows that it will not make a difference, mainly because of the under representation of the youth contesting for parliamentary positions.
This thinking seems common among the youth and is also the case with women in Zimbabwe. They are only comfortable voicing their opinion in safe spaces such as their homes and among friends, but cannot summon the courage to participate in mainstream political processes. That fewer women contest for parliamentary and presidential position bears evidence to that.
Tariro Stonya interviewed Charity about voting in the election:
Speak ZW: Are you employed?
CP: Currently I work for my parents who run a real estate business in the city centre. I am also a part time Disc Jockey.
Speak ZW: Did you register to vote?
CP: Yes, I am registered, but when I did I was not actively seeking to register. I happened to be passing .by the Town House and when I noticed there were not too many people, I decided to JUST register. Other things always took priority so I would never have deliberately registered to vote in this country.
Speak ZW: What are you hoping for in the elections?
CP: Living in this country has taught me to make the most with what I have. I am done hoping for change, tongoita zviripo [We do what we can with what is available]. I want economic freedom. When I was growing up, there were no mshikashika [privately owned share taxis] and very few people sold mabhero [Second hand clothing]. Today these are very popular businesses that most people have opted for because it is what the majority of Zimbabweans can afford to spend on. Selling foreign currency on the black market is another popular business. My parents sent me to a South African university hoping that when I returned I would find an independent job, but this has not happened. The majority of Zimbabweans cannot plan beyond six months because we live from hand to mouth. At this moment any party that says they it would bring economic freedom and shows how, would be good.
Speak ZW: Have you seen any change since a new President was inaugurated?
CP: People are expecting too much from Mnangagwa. It took a long time to get to where we are. Robert Mugabe did not break this country alone. We call contributed to breaking it. Corruption is rife; people will not work unless they feel there is a direct individual benefit. In the same manner ED cannot turn this country by himself, we all need to change the way we do things.
Speak ZW: Who are you voting for?
CP: I am going to vote for the devil that I know. That is Zanu PF and this primarily because African politics does not really change. MDC-T President, Nelson Chamisa is not there for me yet. I listened to his speech on tourism and he spoke also about the bullet train. That for me is not the priority.
Speak ZW: Are you familiar with any policies by any political parties?
CP: No I am not, but I will vote Zanu PF because they have experience in running the country. I am not a gambler. I am voting for a party and not the individual.
Speak ZW: Any concerns with the Current ZANU Pf?
CP: Yes, that they have not accommodated the youth in the cabinet all these years and yet now the party says it is concerned about the youth. I do not know of any key positions in the party held by anyone below 35 years. The party must change that if it is being honest about pushing our concerns forward as the youth.
Speak ZW: What would you like to see in the new Zimbabwe?
CP: Transparency is the number one concern. There are a lot of individuals and businesses that are currently protected by the system and yet the ordinary man on the street suffers. This is not right and we all need to be equal l before the law if we are truly in a democratic country.
Speak ZW : Thank you Charity
So if women want change but will not be active change agents, so how the change come about? It is possible that a number of those that make up the majority voter will be voting based on their past experience with a political party? Is there hope that a significant will analyse other political party manifestos, other than those that they have traditionally voted for?.
My opinion is that the majority of Zimbabweans vote without an understanding on what how the people they are voting for will change their lives, and whether what they say during their campaigns is doable. There is a need for the electoral commission and civil society groups to raise awareness for the citizens to understand the power of a vote.
About the Author:
Tariro Manamike –Stonya is a broadcast journalist currently working as a Presenter and producer for talk radio station, Capitalk 100.4FM in Harare. Tariro has a keen interest in women and children’s issues.
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