“Security Sector Reform key for Effective Youth Participation in Elections”

Youths representatives drawn from students unions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political parties have underscored the need for security sector reforms to allow effective youth participation in elections.

This came out during a Peace, Healing and Dialogue Series on Youth and Peaceful Electoral Participation conducted by Heal Zimbabwe on 27 January 2022.The panelists included Tawanda Mazango , from Lupane Youth for Development ,Benon Ncube, President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and Citizens Coalition for Change Youth Assembly Deputy Spokes person,Womberai Nhende.

Nhende highlighted that the Security services disregard fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens such as the right to petition and demonstrate that is exclusively provided for in Section 59 of the constitution.”The Security Sector has been responsible for most human rights since independence. Their engagement with civilians who include young people is violent. It is for this reason that young people shy away from participating in elections”, he said. Ncube also concurred with Nhende’s sentiments and highlighted that security services must respect the laws governing the country and protect the rights and freedom of citizens.” When students demonstrate say for the decentralisation of voter registration centres, security personnel always descend on students using violence. This in turn discourages students from active participation”, added Ncube.Mazango further highlighted that to increase participation of youths there is need for young people to take up local level decision making platforms such as Village Development Committees and Ward Development Committees. Other issues that came out during the dialogue include the need for the establishment of a Youth Commission that will specifically deal with youth issues such as electoral participation. Panelists also underscored the need for increased participation of women in electoral processes even from local authorities to the Presidium.

The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to create dialogues among citizens as this helps to safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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