HARARE – A youth umbrella body has launched an audacious bid to collect 500 000 signatures in a bid to petition Parliament to review the age limit required for them to assume public office.
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the minimum age for one to be a councillor or member of the National Assembly is 21, while one must be 40-plus to be president.
This comes as the youth have of late taken keen interest in national politics and governance, with Zec recently saying 60 percent of the five million-plus registered voters for the looming 2018 elections are the youngsters.
The youngsters argue that since they are entrusted with a driver’s licence at 16 — a huge responsibility involving life and death — and allowed to choose a national leader at 18, they can as well be allowed to occupy public office at a those ages.
National Association of Youth Organisation (Nayo) cluster coordinator, Macdonald Munyoro, said the role of the youths was being overshadowed, demonstrating that they were merely pawns in a larger battle for control among political elites.
“Having broadly consulted youth across the country, Nayo will be petitioning Parliament on youth eligibility for public office to enable youthful leaders to contest and seek office in different levels of governance, in line with Section 20 of the constitution which through section 20 (9) commits the government to ensure that youth have opportunities to associate and to be represented and participate in political, social, economic other spheres of life and this includes occupying positions within public office. The past decades since our independence have only served to reinforce our exclusion,” Munyoro said.
“The common responses young people receive when they attempt to establish themselves are that they are too young and must wait their turn or that they are inexperienced and therefore cannot contribute to the conversation. That is a narrative we must change.”