Ranga Mataire, political editor of the group
Ahead of next year’s elections, political parties are aware of the need to tap into the youth vote, which is an important demographic segment of the country’s electorate.
While the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) likes to present itself as a youthful party, there is very little to show in terms of policy and action that the party really cares about young people. A commentator once remarked that being young is not an ideology, it is a useful demographic.
It appears that the ruling Zanu-PF is not only aware of the need to nurture and exploit this demographic, but has been busy revamping its youth wing to ensure it becomes an effective vanguard capable of mobilize thousands of virgin voters.
Born of a long liberation struggle, the Zanu-PF has the advantage of having experience in mobilizing and mobilizing the young people who constituted the bulk of the combatant base.
After the liberation struggle, Zanu-PF continued to nurture young people, including having a vibrant youth league, an organic party structure that independently generates ideas fed into the main party organs – the Central Committee and the Politburo.
But beyond being the vanguard of the party, the Zanu-PF government has always made it a prerequisite to deliver tailored policies to directly benefit young people.
In other words, Zanu-PF has consistently maintained and nurtured its relationship with youth through various political interventions. In its 2018 manifesto, Zanu-PF summarized its theme centered on preserving unity, fighting corruption, national development, re-engagement and job creation.
The manifesto’s preamble makes it clear that it believes in putting the people at the center of governance for the purposes of inclusiveness and adding value in decision-making processes in accordance with fundamental principles of history and successful “Operation Restore Legacy” under the slogan “Voxi Populi Vox dei” (The voice of the people is the voice of God).
Among the people at the center of his political interventions are young people. Zanu-PF leader President Mnangagwa made it clear that his party values young people and called on young people to take advantage of a range of empowerment programs to contribute to the development of the country.
In his address to the 7th Conference of the National Youth League Zanu-PF on May 6, 2022 at the HICC in Harare, President Mnangagwa said throughout the revolution to the present day, his party has always valued, cared for and trusted young people and placed high expectations on them.
“Your task as young people is to accelerate the development, growth and prosperity of our country, anchored by innovative and contemporary heritage-based strategies,” the president said while addressing delegates at the conference.
His quest to empower young people goes beyond political rhetoric. This year alone, the President directly impacted the lives of young people by launching the Provincial Integrated Development Centers for the 10 provinces of the country where more than 5,000 young people would be recruited each year in each center before being equipped with agricultural skills.
Speaking at the launch of one of DCK Farm’s incubation centers in Kwekwe earlier this year, President Mnangagwa described agriculture as one of the main pillars of the country’s economy, from where the government’s desire to empower young people who constitute 62% of the total population.
The launch of the incubation center saw the President distribute nearly 700 heifers which will be shared among youths across all provinces under the Presidential Heifer Transmission Scheme as the government moves to empower the younger generation.
The president has repeatedly encouraged young people to take a keen interest in agriculture, taking advantage of the new government’s policy of a 20% quota for young people under the land reform programme.
Apart from livestock, the government has also approved plans by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development to set aside certain areas for the empowerment of young people to participate in the mining industry. This is in accordance with the Constitution of the country.
Article 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that “The State and its institutions and agencies at all levels shall take reasonable measures, including affirmative action, to ensure that young people are offered employment opportunities and other avenues of economic empowerment”.
Indeed, the National Policy of the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation recognizes that young women and men are not only a major national resource and heirs to Zimbabwe’s future, but are also contributors assets to the nature of today’s society.
The policy aims to “empower young people by creating an enabling environment and bringing together the necessary resources to undertake programs and projects aimed at fully developing the mental, moral, social, economic, political, cultural, spiritual and physical potential of young people in order to improve their quality of life.”
Any objective observer of the activities of the main political parties in Zimbabwe will come to the following conclusion: Zanu-PF strives to ensure that young people benefit from the various empowerment initiatives made available by the government, while others opposition political parties only pay lip service to the problems. that matter to young people. Despite being in charge of most urban local authorities, the opposition has yet to make a tangible impact on the lives of young people by launching empowerment projects.
Despite being active on social media, the opposition has done very little to promote youth empowerment. Yes, in 2023, social networks will necessarily be an essential mobilization platform for young people. However, this leaves no one guessing that only a political party that has practically launched life-changing empowerment programs on the ground will prevail for young people at election time.