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voter registration and ambitions for the future - Interview Wellington
Zindove, Youth Forum
October 05, 2011
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Wellington Zindove - Read
Zindove is the projects co-ordinator for the Youth
Forum. Formed in 2004, the Youth Forum was established with
the aim of encouraging youth participation in democratic processes.
The Forum is currently running a campaign called "Youth, register
to vote" which hopes to register one million Zimbabwean youths
before the next election.
was the Youth Forum formed?
The Youth Forum was formed to give young people a platform and get
them interested in issues to do with democracy, politics and governance
think that there is space for young people to participate in those
issues in Zimbabwe?
That space is not given; it has to be fought for. What we've
seen even with the inclusive government is that that space is not
clearly defined neither is it given to young people. People are
not free to say what they want, neither can they act in a manner
that they would wish.
would you say are the hopes of young people in Zimbabwe?
I think young people's ambitions have not been realised. Something
as basic as going to school and finding a job is very difficult.
That's a big challenge. That has been as a result of the decay
of our politics, the human rights issues, corruption and mismanagement
of the economy are some of the things that have led us to where
your experience within your network of young people, how would you
say they are working to reclaim their space and realise their ambitions
if at all?
We work in disseminating information to the youth, finding ways
to economically empower them and also we deal with governance. There
are various efforts around the country, some young people are visible
in politics, be it party politics or civic political engagement,
in the economic front there are young people who are very enterprising,
although the issue of resources and capital are frustrating.
did the Youth Go Register To Vote Campaign come about?
It was as a result of wide consultations among our youth members
and stakeholders who had been supporting our work. There was a lot
of talk around elections, and we realised that elections had always
been taken as an event, and that has left out a lot of stakeholders,
particularly young people. We felt that they had not taken up the
responsibility of playing their part; instead they had been perpetrating
violence, gate keeping, toyi-toyi-ing and so on. We also found that
many young people did not have national IDs and could not even vote
come an election. We wanted to invest in teaching young people about
their civic duty, and that they have a stake in the political future
in the country. We try to develop a sense of understanding around
these processes because the youth do not understand that an election
is not an adult affair. What the adults have done is simply to borrow
the country, so we are teaching the youth to say 'no, no,
no you have borrowed this land from us'.
successful has the campaign been?
I think considering that this is a unique campaign in Zimbabwe and
it's never been done before, the campaign has had its own
frustrations. Being a non-profit we rely entirely on donor support.
When we launched this initiative, that was when everyone was focussed
on the constitution making process and unfortunately we could not
get support for it. So we used the Internet and existing platforms
for our advocacy and education. Donors were saying that this project
was a waste of time and it was not sustainable. But we felt we needed
to create a generation of young people who could hold their leadership
accountable. We launched voters clubs around the country. Unfortunately
our success rate hasn't been that high. Our aim was to register
at least one million youths, and we are working in partnership with
other youth organisations to see how we can achieve this.
would you say is one of the successes of the campaign?
Through our email feedback we have found that there are young people
who have never voted but are now more aware about the process of
elections. We also feel that we have shed more light on the practices
and conduct of the Registrar General's office. We feel that
a recent posting by the Registrar General saying that registration
is a continuous process was in response to our campaign. Information
is now reaching the grassroots.
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