The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s Chairperson, Justice Priscilla Makanyara Chigumba has called on youths to be well versed in the country’s electoral processes in order for them to participate meaningfully in elections.
Speaking at the official opening of the first conference on youth participation in electoral activities organised by the Commission in collaboration with the African Union and cooperating partners, Justice Chigumba warned youths against falling prey to misinformation on electoral issues owing to lack of adequate knowledge on the subject. She said this ignorance rendered them vulnerable to abuse by politicians interested in furthering their own agendas.
She told the youths that elections are held under the guidance of internationally recognized standards, which are used as yard sticks to judge their fairness and credibility.
The objectives of the conference were to:
- Create youth’s awareness and understanding of the nexus between elections and democracy and the dividend of their participation in electoral processes.
- Identify the capacity challenges of young people to engage effectively throughout the electoral process.
- Generate innovative programmes enhancing the youth’s voice and choice in breaking barriers for participating in electoral processes.
- Enhance the advocacy and lobbying skills of young people for their engagement efforts with various electoral stakeholders including ZEC, political parties and candidates, Parliament and other statutory bodies, civil society and the media.
- Increase and sustain participation in electoral processes such as voter registration and standing as candidates.
Participants were drawn from various youth organisations in the country transcending the political divide. Also present during the official opening was the Minister of Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation, Dr Kirsty Coventry and the Swiss Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Niculin Jager. The Head of the African Governance Architecture Secretariat at the African Union that expresses the AU’s determination to protect and promote human rights, Dr Salah Hamad attended virtually.