One provision of the recently proposed Constitutional Amendments is the addition of ten youth quota seats in Parliament. This will look like one person aged 21-35 from each of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, elected based on proportional representation from the general election.
This might sound like a great way to increase youth representation and participation in Parliament, but youth advocacy organisation WELEAD is not convinced.
To understand the pros and cons of this provision, we checked out a Twitter Chat between GoZim2020 and WELEAD Trust.
In November last year, WELEAD launched a campaign warning that the proposed ten youth seats are not enough, and advocating for youth involvement in the development of the quota. WELEAD wants systematic, institutional, constitutional and electoral reforms to make Zimbabwe’s political landscape youth friendly. This includes, for example, bringing the age for running for public office down from 21 to 18.
WELEAD wants to see an apolitical quota system with gender balance which is accessible even to independent candidates, and where young people run against other young people, instead of being appointed. WELEAD thinks the 10 seat youth quota proposed in this amendment is tokenistic, and is a move to pacify the youth. Instead, they want to see systematic reforms that allow youth to run and win without having a quota.