Youths Participation In Politics Declines, Lose Faith In Democracy – Report

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By Leopold Munhende

MOST youths in Zimbabwe have lost faith in the country’s democratic processes which has seen their appetite in local and national politics waning drastically compared to their predecessors.

This was revealed by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), in its weekly policy review released Friday.

The local think-tank organisation said most youths aged between 18 to 35 years were slowly losing faith in democracy, and are also less likely to attend political events such as rallies or assist politicians vying for public office in their electoral campaigns.

The policy brief titled: “Youth and their Agency: How to Foster This”; scrutinises today’s youths comparing them with the older generation, and focusing on perceptions of Zimbabwe’s socio, economic and political environment.

“(However), political participation was low for both groups overall but the young were very markedly less likely to attend a campaign rally or meeting; (and) neither group was likely to actively participate through helping a candidate or party,” reads the review.

“Very few youths feel safe to express their views in public (8%) and only a third (33%) feel they have the freedom to say what they think.

“Zimbabwean youths show a trend to decreasing political participation and a virtual absence of active political engagement in the formal sense. Zimbabwean youths can be characterised as voters, but not yet citizens.

“Zimbabwean youths like the general population are losing faith in democracy, although small numbers are increasingly happy with the direction the country is taking, more than two thirds are not.”

RAU went on to suggest a number of policies in order to encourage and accommodate the youths in shaping the nation’s path.

“In order to foster agency in the youths, there is need to create spaces for the young to talk openly about themselves, their likes and dislikes, wants and needs and suggestions as having a voice is a prerequisite to participation and talking is cheap, cheaper than livelihoods.

“There is need to foster participation which is more than ensuring that the youth are always included, it means giving leadership to the youths, bottom up not top-down.”

RAU also suggests there should be marked improvement in support of civic organisations that promote youth participation in all processes.