Youth Voter Apathy Is Giving Zimbabwean Political Parties Anxiety

 

By Wisdom Mumera

Study results by the Applied Knowledge Services show that local political parties face an uphill task in increasing the number of youths who will vote in the 2018 elections as trends have revealed a dire trait for most African countries.

With increased unemployment and a political leadership that is too old to resonate with them or includes youth matters in the youth arena, many youths have resorted to shunning electoral participation.

According to the study results most African countries are grappling with a demographic ‘youth bulge, ” the median age of Africans is 19 years, compared with 42 years for Europeans, and the youth currently comprise 70 per cent of Africa’s population”.

“(However) youth political participation in Africa, particularly in urban areas, is broadly similar to that in other regions. In comparison with older people, Africa’s youth vote less and are more likely to demonstrate either no partisanship or an attachment to opposition parties rather than to incumbent parties.”

Despite the propensity to identify themselves with opposition parties, it is their indifference to participation in the electoral process that is set to provide a headache for the opposition parties who have all earmarked the youths as the focal sector from which to gain an upper hand.

The ruling ZANU PF is already holding Youth Interface rallies across the country which are being addressed by President Mugabe.

The grouping of opposition parties has also focused its campaign strategy on rallying the youths to go out and vote.

According to the AKS “despite Africa’s youth bulge, the majority of the region’s presidents are over 60. Some African scholars believe this prevents the concerns of youth being brought into the political arena and advocate lowering the voting age to 16”.

Zimbabwe is facing the same concerns as an aged clique of war veterans from the liberation struggle has maintained a stranglehold over national structures and positions of power and influence all against the common decency and sense to retire and hand over the reins to more inventive and ambitious young leaders.

The leadership stagnation has served to ostracize the youths who have become cynical about the whole political process.

AKS states that ” youth unemployment remains high in Africa, and approximately 72 per cent of Africa’s youth live on less than two dollars a day”, whilst in Zimbabwe, unemployment is a staggering 90%.

Instead of driving the youths to participate in the electoral process the 2018 elections are likely to suffer from youth apathy as many are likely to abstain and concentrate on eking out a living or simply refuse in a show of defiance to the system.

Going forward into the future the outlook is even dire.

“Given that Africa is urbanizing rapidly and the youth bulge will remain prominent in years to come, voter abstention and low partisanship might grow.”

“Given existing levels of unemployment and poverty among Africa’s youth, job creation could remain highly relevant to their political participation”, it says.

Locally ZANU has failed to provide the promised 2 million jobs promised in the 2013 elections with only whimsical justifications to deflate accusations of failing, providing opposition parties with ammunition to use on the campaign trail.

This, however, provides Zimbabwean youth with valid reasons to go out and vote in the 2018 elections.

According to a media article recently ‘over the past two years, a decisive youth vote has effected change in Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia.’

“In Nigeria, data from the Independent National Electoral Commission shows that, in the 2015 elections, students were the second-largest voting bloc in the country and young people below the age of 30 are the largest percentage of the voting population in the country”.

“Ghana, which held its own polls in December 2016, has 58% of the population under the age of 24, and according to the According to the Commonwealth’s”

Global Youth Development Index and Report 2016, Ghana ranks 31st for youth participation in politics.

In Gambia, where an electoral miracle kicked out a parasitic dictator, youth constitutes at least 60% of the population. Anecdotal evidence from media and observers prove that the election results reflect the energy of their passion.

“It can seem like a cliché when people talk about the power of the youth demographic bulge across Africa. But while that bulge often tacks negative with the economy (Gambia’s youth unemployment stands at 38%; Ghana’s stands at 48%), the one place where its full power comes to bear is in elections; especially free and fair elections.”

According to a media report, in Nigeria,” the overwhelming success of the youth vote energized a population that went to the streets to protest in February this year, an electorate that sought the recall of a Senator in May, and an active civil society that successfully pushed reluctant national legislators to enact a #NotTooYoungToRun Bill that has slashed down the age that young people can contest the governorship, legislative and presidential elections.”

All these examples reveal the power youths possess if they manage to overcome cynicism to stay away from voting.

In a statement on the matter, the Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity (ZIPP) has challenged the youths in Zimbabwe to rise up and vote in numbers.

“ZIPP urges government, Zimbabwe Election Commission, NGOs, political parties, churches and learning institutions to create enough awareness among the youth as to why they should vote.”

“It is only in Zimbabwe that we have an organization like Zimbabwe Coalition of Unemployed Graduates formed by jobless but highly qualified youths.”

The coalition has since presented a petition to the Parliament of Zimbabwe highlighting their dissatisfaction with the state of the economy.

“We also challenge Zimbabwe Coalition of Unemployed Graduates to mobilize its wide membership to register and vote.”

“Zanu PF government is struggling to deal with a worsening unemployment crisis as companies collapse, hence our call for youths to use the only weapon still in their possession – the vote”, it has said

As the elections draw near the youths are thus well poised to play a far greater and decisive role if they surmount the previous apathy which has seen them staying away from voting.

How Govt Might Justify A Strict Cyber Bill

 

By Daniel Chigundu

A few weeks ago, a Zanu PF website was hacked for the second time by unknown people who might be operating from within or outside the country.

Interestingly, the hacking of the website comes at a time when the country is in the process of crafting a Cyber Bill, currently referred to as Computer Crime and Cyber Bill.

The Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill draft was circulated extensively last year on various platforms by the government, individuals and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Download 2016 Draft Cyber Crime & Computer Crimes Bill

While it is a fact that Zimbabwe requires some regulations of some sort to govern the use of the internet and the cyber space, most Zimbabweans are however united in condemning the circulated draft. It’s widely believed that the Bill will not only prevent social media abuse but also restrict its use, which is said to be in direct contrast with to the country’s new constitution.

The bone of contention emanates from the letter and spirit of the draft Bill which focuses mainly on seeking to criminalize the use of the internet as opposed to seeking to promote safe use.

According to the draft Bill, the Act will seek “to criminalize offences against computers and network related crime; to consolidate the criminal law on computer crime and network crime; to provide for investigation and collection of evidence for computer and network related crime; to provide for the admission of electronic evidence for such offences, and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.”

Seasoned constitutional lawyer Tendai Biti has already made it clear that he is going to fight the proposed Bill arguing that it is bent on infringing on the people’s constitutionally given rights and that there is no justification for the law.

“…the point is no one has got a right to infringe on a constitutionally given right to freedom of communication, to freedom of expression, to freedom of speech.

“And the new Zimbabwe constitution which we have is unique, for the first time it has another freedom, the freedom of the media. I consider the right to communicate as part of human dignity, its part of our own dignity that we are able to communicate in the way we are able to do.

“There are two rights in the Zimbabwe constitution which cannot be infracted number one, it’s the right to dignity, and number two the right not to be subjected to torture, so I don’t believe that a Constitutional Court will uphold an infraction on the right to human dignity, right to communication, which is why I stated that there would be a legal challenge upon an attempt to encroach on our values and our rights,” he said.

While there is no doubt that the Bill will eventually come since it was announced by President Robert Mugabe when he was setting the legislative agenda of the Fourth Session of Parliament, the government is currently looking for justifications and scenarios that will allow them to be more strict especially on the use of social media.

A hacked Zanu PF website is likely to be used as one of the justifications, while the death threat messages received by MDC-T legislators last year could be another reason.

The Parliamentary Privileges Committee that was set to investigate the death threat messages revealed that they could not locate the source of the sender, even with the help of the police and Potraz.

The Committee recommended that “there is need to expedite the process of bringing into operation the Cyber Crimes Bill, which should establish a cyber security office, a cyber-crime special unit and a ministerial committee to deal with cyber-crimes. The Bill should be introduced in Parliament by September 2017.

“The Postal and Telecommunications Act must also be amended to reflect the technological changes around the globe and render certain actions as unlawful…

“A Bill proposing amendments to the Postal Telecommunications Act must be brought to Parliament before the end of 2017…,” read part of the recommendations.  

There is also the Katswe Sistahood petition to Parliament on revenge-porn and leaked sex-tapes that did some rounds on social media; it can also come in hand as justification that has been pushed by CSOs. According to Harare West legislator Jessie Majome, the Katswe Sistahood petition might actually have been abused and informed the drafting of the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime draft Bill.

Majome also told Parliament that she fears that the Privileges Committee report on death threat messages can also be used to infringe freedom of speech as opposed to promote safe use of cyber space. Zanu PF legislator John Holder told Parliament that the without the Cyber Bill, the country is exposed to various cyber crimes and internet abuse.

However, the issue could be that government would want to close the opposition’s newly found communication platform ahead of 2018 elections. MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu is on record claiming that social media will play a big role in the opposition’s campaign for the impending general elections. Independent candidates such Fadzayi Mahere and Vimbai Musvaburi are also making waves on social media.

 

#Twimbos react to $1 Billion Mugabe University

 

By Munya Bloggo

News of a university in honour of President Robert Mugabe was released today. The Robert Mugabe University is set to be built in Mazowe following cabinet approval and a US$1 billion grant. Zimbabweans expressed their frustration not only because Zimbabwe is broke but because there many other things that money can be used for. Ange over the decision was evident on social media. Check out some of the top tweets.


Govt May Assume A Staggering US$500 Million Worth Of Council Bills

 

By Daniel Chigundu

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa says the government is considering assuming about US$500 million worth of bills that were written off by local authorities. The government in 2013 ordered local authorities in the country to cancel all household outstanding bills from February 2009 to June 2013 as a way of addressing the alleged shambolic billing methods that were being used.

The cancellation, however, left most local authorities in huge challenges as they could not effectively provide critical services such as water, refuse collection, road maintenance among many others owing to lack of finances. Addressing a local government investment conference, Minister Chinamasa said the government needs to find practical ways of assisting affected local authorities.

“Cancellation of bills will never happen again, US$500 million was lost through cancellation, and we need to find ways to assist affected councils.

“And we are considering practical ways of doing this, and one of the ways we might be doing this is to assume the debt as government,” he said

The government has been using a debt assumption strategy as a way of making its various debt ridden parastatals attractive to potential investors.

Just recently Cabinet approved the assumption of over US$1 billion worth of debts that have been accumulated by critical state enterprises in a bid to bring them back in line. Some of the enterprises earmarked to benefit from the approval include Air Zimbabwe (US$334 million), National Railways of Zimbabwe (US$200million), Zisco Steel (US$374 million) and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. The government has already taken over about US$1.35 billion worth of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe debts.
The debt assumption will have a huge effect on the country’s huge debt overhang which is said to be around US$11.3 billion of which US$4billion is domestic debt.

Meanwhile, Minister Chinamasa has urged local authorities to adhere to the government directive on the allocation ratio of funds.

“Local authorities should never forget that their role is to provide reliable, affordable and quality service to our people and not enriching a few individuals!

“Government, therefore, expects local authorities to comply with the directive by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing that I will restate: 30% of the budget – employment costs; and 70% of the budget – should go towards service delivery.

“I am pleased that some councils and municipalities have started complying with the said directive. I implore the non-compliant authorities to follow suit,” he said.

The Finance Minister also revealed that government will assist those local authorities, whose finances are in order and currently being well-managed to invest in infrastructure development, adding his ministry stand ready to give them borrowing powers duly signed by Treasury and; the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.-ENDS

Will The MDC Alliance  Pass  The  Litmus Test?

 

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Saturday 5 August at Highfield’ s Zimbabwe Grounds saw the signing of a pact with some opposition forces where they unanimously agreed to rally behind one presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T in next year’s polls.

It was historic indeed as it brought together MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai,  founding secretary general of MDC Professor  Welshman Ncube and his successor Tendai Biti.Also coming in handy was the solidarity by the civic organization and social movements particularly #This Flag and Tajamuka ably represented by Pastor E and Promise Mkwananzi respectively. The feeling was nostalgic judging with how the majority of the supporters who thronged the grounds celebrated when Professor Ncube conceded that they erred in the past and the time had come for redress.

The coming in of smaller opposition outfits like Transform Zimbabwe led by Jacob Ngarivhume, former ambassador and brigadier general Agrippa Mutambara-led ZimPF, Zanu Ndonga and MDC is likely to bolster the former prime minister’s chances of winning the presidency.

Dubbed the MDC alliance, the event also showed the flip side of the coalition notably the absence of the other top brass of the MDC-T executive that includes the party’s  first vice president Thokozani Khupe and national organizing secretary Abedinico Bhebhe who were conspicuous by their absence. It was a tell-tale sign that all is not well in the MDC-T and this was later confirmed by the reports of the violence that was meted on the aforementioned executive members who blame the party’s president for unleashing ‘thugs’ on them. This is likely to see a split of the party which would then derail the efforts of the coalition.

The level of intolerance that the main opposition party’s  supporters exhibited when ever people from the civic society and other opposition leaders took to the podium was sickening. Tendai Biti of PDP was a subject of boos and labeling when he delivered his speech and this could be detrimental for the coalition to be effective. The supporters would not tolerate any party slogan despite the event being a multi-party event.

The pact has also left many young and aspiring leaders  feeling being left out as they feel the sharing of parliamentary and council seats is going to limit them. It is this regard  that political activist Acie Lumumba expressed his criticism of the coalition  on his facebook account

The notion that because MT has the numbers so he should be supported baffles me, RGM too has the numbers; so why don’t we all support him? He who has the numbers must use them to support he who has an actual plan for the country. If MT does have a plan, please educate me on what it is? Having said that, a coalition is the right way forward, but we must interrogate the kind of coalition we are referring to.

“A coalition with no youth or female leadership is not reflective of the Zimbabwe I want, in fact, is insulting to the youth and women leaders in Zimbabwe. It will NEVER get my support and I am prepared to defend that position. I am too invested in Zimbabwe to be politically correct so GTF out of here with that mess” he wrote.

Other opposition parties like Mujuru’s NPP, Simba Makoni’s MKD, Elton Mangoma and Dabengwa-led ZAPU just to mention but a few feel coalition is not yet a done deal and if they are not considered this is likely to stunt the growth  of this new baby-MDC alliance.