By Yvonne Manjengwa
8 March 2018 – The National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) has urged youths to sign a petition calling on the Parliament to enable youthful leaders to contest and seek office in different levels of governance.
Addressing journalists today at a press conference held in the capital, MacDonald Munyoro, NAYO Representative said the political space for youth participation and decision making remains restricted and complex to navigate.
“Youth participation in Zimbabwe remains at the non–participation levels as noted by Roger Hart’s ladder of Participation”, said Munyoro.
According to Munyoro, challenges to youth inclusion expand to but are not limited to insufficient representation in decision making bodies hence the sidelining of youth issues, restrictive and exclusion age caps on eligibility for public office.
“Political exploitation of youth before and during election tending towards labeling of youth as perpetrators of violence amongst others, lack of space and platforms to express their views and concerns on governance and weak youth participation and involvement in local governance in both invited and created spaces”, said Munyoro.
Munyoro stated that NAYO will be rolling out a petition signing exercise across the country where youths from all sects of society and political affiliations will dot their signatures to this petition.
“This is a collaborative effort by the youths of Zimbabwe to ensure that we access public office, the past decades since our independence have only served to reinforce our exclusion, and we cannot in the 21st century continue to tolerate exclusion governance tendencies”.
According to Tawanda Kalonga, National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) Youth Chairperson, the signing of the petition will only take two weeks and they are targeting approximately fifty thousand signatures from each province.
Youth in Zimbabwe constitute 67.7% of the population and are a key demographic imperative which government must consider fully in all development processes.