In the run up to the 31 July 2013 elections, the main political parties in Zimbabwe, namely Zanu PF and the two MDCs were in great competition for the youth vote. This came to be seen by many analysts as a confirmation that the votes of young Zimbabweans had the potential of being the game changer for the harmonized elections.
While historically Youths have always generally been used to murder, intimidate as well as harass political opponents during the July 2013 elections, things appeared somewhat different. The political parties made promises that included ownership of mines, creation of employment; access to empowerment funds via the Youth Council as well as residential stands.
During the run up to the elections Zanu had the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment policy as its lifeline. It also promised to decriminalize gold panning, as well as setting aside jobs for youths in non-performing economic sectors. As a counter to these policies, the MDC-T engaged in Jobs, Upliftment, Investment Capital and Environment (JUICE) which was mainly presented as being meant to curb the skyrocketing levels of unemployment.
With one year gone after the elections it would appear that political parties have nothing to offer to the impoverished youths in the country. This is evidenced by most policy pronouncement by the parties be they in central or local government or be they ruling or opposition parties. Scores of youths interviewed by this reporter expressed agony over the manner in which politicians have taken youths for a ride in a bid to gain votes.
“The only time that politicians remember us is when they seek for our votes and once the electoral period is over you never get to hear anything concerning the youths,” said Tapiwa Mutema, a youth who hails from Mvuma , adding that it is only during the electoral period youths will be the centre stage.
Another youth who identified himself as Kim, who hooked with this reporter while wondering up and the now destroyed Ximex mall said that youths in the country have for the past years been used to settle political scores.
“Once political scores have been settled youths are then dumped out of the equation, look at the upfumi kuvadiki scheme which disappeared once the elections were over,” said Kim.
Mildred Chiuswa, a university graduate echoed the above sentiments when she revealed that youths are tired of election gimmicks in which they are promised greener pastures just because of election campaigns.
Alson Darikai, the President of the Zanu PF affiliated Youth Economic Empowerment Support group is confident that his party will implement its promises so as to carter for the needs of the youths. He said, ‘They have toured the country as part of the fulfillment of electoral promises.”
MDC-T youth spokesperson, Clifford Hlatywayo revealed that JUICE will be implemented once the MDC comes to power.
“Currently we don’t have the powers to implement our policies because we don’t have anyone in the executive to push for our policies. Once we come to power we will formalize the informal sector so as to curb the skyrocketing levels of unemployment amongst the youths,” said Hlatywayo.