Statement on Calls for Presidential Age Limit Changes

The Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) notes with grave concern the continued stifling and disregard of youth participation in Zimbabwe’s political spheres. Youth rights and freedoms are being cast aside in favour of what some may term as ‘maturity in politics’ as stated in The Herald (04 December 18) where utterances attributed to the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe National liberation war vets Association Victor Matemadanda, call for an amendment of the Constitution to change the presidential age limit to a minimum of 50. These sentiments were also buttressed at the recent Zanu PF annual conference. Ageism is a blatant attack on Zimbabwe’s youths, an unfounded assumption that we are not capable of contributing meaningfully to our communities’ development and must therefore be condemned and not be allowed to stand. This is very detrimental to the young women of this country who already live in a highly patriarchal socio-political set-up where equal participation is non existent.

If anything, young women within and beyond the country’s boarders continue to throw dust on such backward thinking as shown their dominance in business, arts and politics with Rwanda, France and Canada showing the benefits of incorporating youths into their political systems. Recent appointments of young women in these countries to include Bogono Joy Kenewendo (the 30 year old Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana) and Kamissa Camara (the 35 year old Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali) bear testimony to this.

While IYWD remains non-partisan, our work is engrained in promoting youth, particularly young women’s livelihoods and participation in development processes (socio-economic and political) and it is therefore our mission to see a society where youths contribute immensely to the development of their communities, as we are the future. We therefore call for those having such a retrogressive mentality to retract such thinking which is premised on partisan agenda as it goes against the culture of tolerance, inclusiveness and constitutionalism. We remain committed and resolute in pushing out all forms of discrimination that create and perpetuate inequalities and charting a new path which respects all the fundamental freedoms and rights.

Source: Institute for Young Women Development