The turnout of young voters is intentionally low and has been for the previous three general elections. Most modern youth, the ostensible political base of the opposition, are frequently utterly apathetic, bewildered, and ignorant of political causes, with the exception of those who are politically minded, passionate about change, or politically active. Zanu-PF has mastered the art of preying on these weaknesses.
Zimbabwe's 2023 elections have very little chance of being competitive, according to a piece written on May 23, 2022, by the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. This is because the electoral landscape in Zimbabwe is still very unlevel and heavily in favor of the ruling party. This point of view paralleled one made in a previous Daily Maverick piece by Professor Brian Raftopoulos, who suggested that authoritarian military techniques continue to be crucial in helping Zanu-PF gain an advantage over the opposition on the political scene.
These arguments are not new, although being important. When a presidential election is approaching, this topic takes over practically all of the media headlines online. The political behavior of the electorate, particularly that of young people between the ages of 18 and 35, and how that plays a crucial role in deciding the competitiveness or outcome of an election are virtually ever mentioned in these narratives, which occur much too frequently.
The fact that young people are obstinately distant when it comes to elections is one such argument. Numerous them are not registered voters. Even if they do, they fail to appear on election day. Despite being the ones most impacted by political processes and struggling in record numbers to obtain employment and educational prospects, they seem to have the least interest in voting.
Given that the majority of Zimbabwe's 15.1 million residents are under the age of 35, their vote is unquestionably crucial. This theory is obviously not new either, but it is seen to be plausible and worthwhile overstating because voter turnout is more likely to be stirred than substantial adjustments to the election and security systems.
According to a statement made by Professor Jonathan Moyo, "Zanu-PF will never reform itself out of power." The ruling party will do all and everything to avoid setting up a situation that would guarantee too much transparency and accountability into the election.
Therefore, it is crucial for opposition parties to invest more in political initiatives that they can use or influence more to increase their level of political influence. It is crucial to mobilize as many people as you can to sign up to vote and appear at the polls on election day. The political mobilization of previously disengaged people often fuels the emergence of new divides, and this is what we seem to have seen with the elections in Zambia in August 2021. When political cleavages garner excessive public interest, participation, and engagement, they can become quite polarizing.
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But prior election results show that we are a very long way from achieving this political mileage.
Since 2008, Zimbabwe has held three national elections, and five million young people did not vote in any of them.
On December 27, 2021, Team Pachedu disclosed that in 2018, approximately 1.9 million young people who were entitled to vote did not cast their ballots, and 39% of Zimbabweans between the ages of 18 and 34 were not registered. 1.53 million young people become able to vote after 2018, according to the report.
According to a research by the Research and Advocacy Unit that was published on July 5 of that year, nearly 2 million young Zimbabweans under 30 were unregistered. A million or more eligible young people under 35 did not register in 2008.
Recently, the 26 March 2022 parliamentary and local government by-elections gave us a glimpse as to what we might anticipate in the presidential elections of the following year. A 35% turnout was noted for the election.
It is undeniable that many young people no longer care about or believe that elections can bring about political change, and they view voting as pointless because practically all of our elections are characterized by horrifying violence and claims of electoral fraud. Although important, this viewpoint minimizes some elements.
It is crucial to emphasize that whether young people participate in elections as candidates, voters, or activists greatly influences what limits their participation. There is proof that young people are more likely to experience violence when they take part in politics as activists or candidates than when they simply cast a ballot.
Second, it's difficult to rig elections. There is proof that rigging can be avoided or at the very least minimized. A thorough deployment of polling agents and impartial international observers can considerably reduce rigging at the polls, during the count, or during aggregation.
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