Youth from Beula Talking Voter Apathy through Youth Engagement Platforms

Two youths in Beula ward 5 have been encouraging and educating young people on the importance of registering to vote by creating a WhatsApp group. This mobilization drive was meant to ride on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) mobile voter registration blitz first phase from 1 to 28 February 2022. Thalusang and Mthelisi Ndlovu from Beula village came up with the idea of engaging youths to register to vote and participate in the electoral process by creating a WhatsApp platform. Ms Ndlovu said they decided to form the WhatsApp group so that they can help increase the number of registered voters in Matobo South, which according to ZEC does not have enough registered voters to make a constituency. “In my constituency there is no voter education so young people need proper explanation on why it is important to register to vote and where and how can they do so” she said

Mthelisi said the reason why there is voter apathy amongst young people in his community is because they have never seen a top government official apart from the councilor so they cannot relate to why they should choose leaders that they don’t know and will never meet. He said, “Youths do not know of any government program that benefits them, so they do not see the need to be part of the electoral process”. Thalusang and Mthelisi highlighted the issue of lack of birth certificates and national identity cards as a major reason why young people were not coming forward to register to vote. “The registration centers are too far away and one needs proper information to be able to go and apply for identity documents because it is expensive to be sent back and forth to bring proper requirements, many give up and stop applying” said Mr Ndlovu. Mthelisi suggested that the electoral body must have trained voter educators who can reach out to every community so that access to information on registration reaches everyone. “We have many activities in the community like soccer tournaments and community projects where young people meet and this is where voter education must be done” he said.

Thalusang said ZEC must be accompanied by the Registrar department so that those that have issues with their identity documents can be assisted and they can automatically register. She said, “Voter education must be continuous and in different platforms both virtual and physical so that everyone is reached, the reality we live in is that young people do not have proper information and it is our responsibility to reach out and assist them”

In the first phase of the mobile registration blitz, the ZEC Matobo district office reported that they registered 763 new voters which falls short to reach the targeted 6000 new voters before the delimitation process is conducted later this year. Voter apathy and lack of necessary documents were cited as the reason behind the low voter registration.

Source: Matobo Youth Development Initiative

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