Are Zimbabweans ready for 2018 elections? – Part One…taking youths to the voting booth?

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THE election season is upon Zimbabwe and the hive of activities as political parties fight to place their best foot forward is again a reminder to all Zimbabweans that they are duty bound to choose wisely on election day.
Earlier this week, I was reading an online edition of The Chronicle which said that one local authority had denied a request by one legislator to embark on a project because the latter was yet to make good on his other promises to carry out several development projects in that locale that were made in 2013.
The one thing that came to mind after reading that article was that this certain legislator is one of those who only show up in their constituency when elections are nigh and after they win, they are off to Harare, only to be seen after five years.
More often than not, as analysts and commentators, we discuss the various activities political parties and their various candidates are undertaking in order to woo the electorate.
In fact, over the years, the requirements and needs of the electorate have been defined by politicians and not those who hold the real power, the voters.
The primary purpose of an election is for the masses to choose people who would deliver.
It is a contract by the population that we are entrusting an individual or a group of individual to govern us, based on certain agreed principles that we share and expect that these individuals would carry out their duties truthfully.
Where these individuals fail, depending on the contract, they can be recalled, or would not be entrusted with political office at the next election cycle.
So, as we head to the 2018 harmonised elections, the question should not be which political party should I support, but why should I vote?
The polarisation of the political arena in Zimbabwe has clouded the issues and politics has become about the minor issues and not the bread and butter issues.
Interestingly, as political parties focused on their internal matters post the 2013 elections, a new breed of politicians moved in and filled the void.
The social movements fronted by the likes of Evan Mawarire, Fadzai Mahere and Patson Dzamara, among others, served as a wake-up call to the traditional politician that, if they failed to articulate the issues that are affecting Zimbabweans they would be replaced by young, motivated and hungry individuals who are not bound by the dictates of old school politics.
That youths matter and will play a key role in the upcoming elections is not up for debate.
In reaction to the social movements, the MDC-T sought to ride on this new wave by placing some young members within the key groups in order to sway the discourse in its favour.
That party went on to appoint a young politician into its presidency, upon realising that young people were not backing down when it came to having their say in political matters.
ZANU PF’s ongoing youth interface rallies are also in reaction to the growing influence and power held by youth voters.
However, the one thing that I am yet to be convinced of, is that outside of the frustrations vented by the social movement leaders and their supporters in 2016, do young Zimbabweans have the clout and passion to carry their determination to be heard past social media messages and videos, to the voting booth.
That young people barely make it to the voting booth is an open secret.
In Zimbabwe, the elderly are more consistent when it comes to voting.
The challenge for any political party which seeks to target the youth vote is getting them to the voting booth.
While the youth make up the majority of potential voters, the elderly, despite their low numbers, have proved time and again that they are the ones who determine elections as they make up the greater number of actual votes cast.
When it comes to the fulfilment of election promises, the world over, the voting patterns determine whose needs are met first.
One of President Donald Trump’s first actions in the Oval Office was an immigration ban on several Muslim-orientated nations.
While this was despicable and met with uproar by liberals and most normal people, those who voted Trump into office welcomed the move as it was part of what he promised during his election campaign.
Still in the US, the Baby Boomer generation, representing about 28 percent of our total population, has a significant influence on the country’s politics and economics.
People born between 1946 and 1964 are considered part of the Baby Boomer generation.
They have more discretionary income (wealth) than any other age group; control 70 percent of the total net worth of American households – US$7 trillion of wealth; own 80 percent of all money in savings and loan associations; spend more money disproportionately to their numbers and account for a dramatic 40 percent of total consumer demand.
Given their political and economic might, it comes as no surprise that their needs and demands receive attention of political parties.
Which is why you find that the social needs of the elderly in the US are better served than those of children.
It’s all about who votes, not who is in the greater number without voting power.
In Zimbabwe, the same can be said.
Who are the major beneficiaries of the Presidential Inputs Scheme, Command Agriculture and the More Food for Africa programmes, among others?
The rural farmer and the new farmer, who are part of that Party’s traditional support base.
It might seem cruel, but superior politics commands that ZANU PF addresses the demands of its support base ahead of any other demographic.
So while urbanites might protest, destroying property and infrastructure in the process, Government will react, but not in the same manner as it would to protests by farmers, for example.
This, however, is not to absolve Government for failing to meet its obligations in ensuring development across the country.
Any good politician always looks to improving and increasing his support base.
Still on increasing one’s support base, an unfortunate trend has taken root in Zimbabwe, where some unscrupulous individuals take advantage of the electoral season to engage in criminal activities in attempts to gain support from the electorate.
Zimbabweans in most urban areas, particularly those in the lower income brackets, in the aftermath of the post 2013 elections had to endure the pain of their hard-earned money literally going down the drain.
A significant number of home-seekers fell prey to criminals and politicians who illegally parcelled out state and council land in the run-up to the elections.
Many of these victims went on to put up structures which were later demolished.
The unfortunate part is that the majority of these victims still await the wheel of justice and there are some in this coming election season who will again fall prey to these land scams.

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