BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been urged to put in place measures to stop political parties from using young people as conduits of political violence.
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) made the call yesterday following increased political violence cases involving young people ahead of the March 26 by-elections.
Zimcodd bemoaned the high unemployment rate of over 90% among the youth, which it said resulted in them engaging in criminal activities and being easily lured to fight on behalf of political party bigwigs.
“The continuous churning out of graduates from colleges and universities without matching economic transformation to create meaningful jobs is an act of injustice to the future of the youths and the nation at large,” the Zimcodd statement read.
“Zec must apply the progressive provisions already in the Constitution to ensure a level playing field for youths in electoral processes. This must include the creation of safe political spaces for youth participation, especially young women. As the 2023 harmonised elections fast approach, Zec and the government must ensure that young people are not abused, but educated to exercise their democratic rights.”
Youths in the country constitute 65% of the population. Zimcodd said idleness was forcing them to resort to drug abuse and engage in violence.
“As a result, many youths are forced to survive on undignified jobs in the informal economy, particularly vending, smallholder agriculture and informalised artisanal and small-scale mining.”
Zimcodd programmes manager John Maketo told NewsDay that young people were increasingly being used by politicians as pawns in their political games.
“We see few youth occupying top political posts. However, they are being used to perpetrate political violence in fighting for party chefs. Whenever there is political violence, youth are at the forefront. We are also losing many young people as victims of political violence. We also want to see them participating in key electoral issues, not a situation where they are exposed to political-related criminal activities that leave them in jail and in the fringes of the political arena,” Maketo said.
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