Youths here have said they are keen to present a viable political force in the 2018 presidential elections that is strong enough to effectively participate and influence the formal political process.
Contributing at a consultative debate organised by the Temba Mliswa-led Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy (Yard) in Manicaland, the youths were unanimous in their quest to identify able youths to vote for in the next crunch polls.
The youth form the majority of the membership base for Yard.
They noted that political empowerment and inclusion of the youth in the democratic process was important for the success of the current transitional process.
Bridget Dumbuka, a deputy secretary-general in the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party, said most youths were increasingly disillusioned and expected Yard to turn into a political party.
“Most youths have been moving from one party to another and now want Yard to be the real deal,” Dumbuka said.
“From jumping ship so many times, some no longer have anywhere else to go. Soon we will be grandmothers without having achieved anything as youths as we remain repressed.”
Her comments were echoed by Robson Goteka, the grouping’s Chipinge district administrator, who said youths were “fed up with the politics of the so-called political parties”.
Lynette Mudehwe, a civic activist, said she had observed from the meeting that most youths needed their voice to be heard.
“What is clear is that young people feel they now need their own system through which they can make decisions and influence the course of events in the country,” Mudehwe said.
Mliswa, an admirer of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, told the meeting that he would not stand in their plan for a youth-led party.
“Can you stop a child who is crawling from walking?” Mliswa asked. “This is my answer…you can’t stop progress. But structures are key; especially at ward level.”
The mooted youth-dominated party, however, faces an array of challenges. Its internal cohesion is threatened by differences of political opinion.
Structural weaknesses and lack of organisational capacities also hinder the ability to perform effectively.
Capacity-building, political education and leadership skills will be crucial for the outfit to become an effective player in Zimbabwe’s transition, analysts say.