By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
As the campaign for 2018 elections gathers momentum, political parties, presented with a puzzle on how they can entice the young people to vote have turned to popular Zimdancehall artists to lure them.
Zimdancehall is one of the most sought-after, popular music genre followed most by youths in Zimbabwe.
Previously, there has been voter apathy among the youths and it remains a question if this popular culture can be a panacea to woe young voters?
In a situation where most of the sought after young population demography are virgin voters, there is need to captivate them to register to vote and participate in the forthcoming elections.
According to Lauren deLisa Coleman in an article entitled ‘Reaching Millennials Through Pop Culture published in Campaigns and Elections, 2016, “Popular culture is a powerful tool in an increasingly fragmented society. It’s what often times is the key manner in which to link people, especially when it comes to certain Millennial sub-demos,”.
This assertion is relevant here because we have a fragmented country which has an older generation that endured the colonial regime and welcomed the country’s independence with much anticipation.
The second generation is the so-called ‘born-frees’ who could have enjoyed a few years of the ‘good times’ and now the Millennials who were born when the economy had already started falling. The afore observation present an inherent need to use pop culture(Zimdancehall)to encourage the young folk to get registered to vote by engaging popular artists who have become role models to them.
The observation explains why it has proved effective to use pop culture (Zimdancehall) to encourage the young folk to get registered to vote by engaging popular artists who have become role models to these young people.
Recently, ZimRights and ERC (Elections Resource Centre) launched a voter mobilisation programme at Chigovanyika Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza where thousands of young people in the satellite town came to witness the event which was graced by Soul Jah Luv ‘Chibaba’ and Guspy Warrior. Nearby was the BVR registration centre which the CSOs encouraged people to visit after taking them through the BVR exercise.
The massive turn out undoubtedly could have been triggered by the presence of this revered Zimdancehall artists and the CSOs are going to be using the same ‘modus operandi’ across the country.
Zanu PF has roped in Zimdancehall artistes at its interface rally and the opposition should not under-estimate that this popular culture can be a vehicle to rally the masses to vote out Zanu PF next year.
So it remains to be seen whether Zimdancehall can be used as a tool for voter mobilisation and participation in the political process.