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YOUNG WOMEN VOICE UP FOR POLITICAL SPACE

Young  women from all walks of life and across the political divide who include members of parliament and activists have begun to set the pace and rhythm towards the upcoming 2018 general elections by defying their marginalisation and exclusion demanding space  on the political theatre .

At a symposium organised by Women for  Women  dubbed “shevote2018” held in Harare yesterday , whose tone was sober and non-partisan , there were calls to women to occupy political space initially by becoming conscious of the validity of their participation in the upcoming election and also  the need to include and support fellow  young women in the race to higher echelons of governance in Zimbabwe . The impetus and theme of this meeting was on YOUNG WOMEN : VOTE , BE ELECTED AND BE INVOLVED .

One of the Organisers of this event Maureen Kademaungwe set the discourse into motion by giving the audience of over eighty women the background of what prompted the formation of the platform . There are cries that the quota system embedded in Zimbabwe s constitution provides for the inclusion of at least 60 women in the house of Assembly but of the sixty only two are less than thirty five years of age , the rest being older women . Statistics reveal that youths are more than  64 % of the population but this is not reflected in their  representation in governance .

A representative of the Election Resource Centre (ERC) , Tatenda Mazarura explained the new Biometric  Voter Registration (BVR) system adopted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission  and embraced its  pivotal inclusion  in the electoral processes in  comparison to the deactivated  voter ‘s roll system, which from independence , had being the sole prerogative of the Registrar General’ s office and in many cases was found wanting  with names of two year olds or deceased persons included on the roll and names of  others , who may have gone through all registration processes,  missing . She however called on ZEC to consider engaging the public in extensive voter education so as to avoid misconception and abuse of the new system targeting the space of the younger generation such as social media in a bid to reach as many young women as possible .

The piloting of the BVR system commences in May 2017 but will be put to the test in the by-elections of the Bikita West Constituency to be held this coming weekend where parties are contesting for the House of Assembly seat left vacant after the 7 year incarceration of Munyaradzi Kereke who was found guilty on charges of rape  .

There are calls for the alignment of the electoral act to cater for all young women who may, during the voter registration process , be in hospitals or prisons and even in the diaspora to allow them to participate in the electoral process .

Authorities were urged to guarantee a conducive voting environment as one of the causes of voter apathy among young women has been the fear of violence perpetrated before , during and after elections .

The leader of the Women’s coalition Sally Dura escalated the meeting to yet another level with sound  wisdom on how young women can effectively participate in the election race as candidates for their parties. She illustrated how the political context is male dominated and the young women have been relegated to slogan chanting and ushering in support of male candidates . The statistics of young women associated with negative developments in society far outweigh those who have made significant progress on the political front . She gave a spirited class on the quality and requisite effort of a politician who will transcend hindrances and stigmas to win elections in the event of them participating in the election as candidates with emphasis on political capital and effective, sustainable support systems .

The fascinating aspect of this indaba was the conspicuous absence of partisan talk , hate language and discriminatory gestures . The fundamentals lie in the ascension of young women into real politics regardless of their political affiliation and conviction. If the same mindsets and culture could permeate into all compartments of Zimbabwe s politics , 2018 elections will live as a milestone event whose impact will resonate not only in our generation but will become an eternal excellency in many generations to come .

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About Robert Mutryasira