Tag Archives: Elections

NUST SRC, failed students?

Varsity Magazine
2 minute read. 

As the current SRC board for 2017/2018 term is about to end, it would be wrong if we look past their endeavors without saying a word. Last year as they were campaigning for their various posts, they made promises to the students and some of the presidential candidates went on further to give us their manifestos and what they were intending to do after being elected into the office. The question that now remains is, were the promises fulfilled?

Pablo
NUST SRC Outgoing President Pablo Tinashe Chimusoro

If we can answer, then we will know the very reason why we elect prospective candidates into power. The current board which was led by President Pablo T Chimusoro and the vice President Natasha Aliki who were both leaders of NSC and ZICOSU respectively did manage to transform the livelihoods of the Nust community.

I will just mention a few achievements that were done by the current SRC board so that we know what we will be expecting from the next Council. Sockets where replaced in one of the small lecture theatres, a new bus was bought and it happens to be that the bus is for the students only but the situation is totally different on the ground because currently the lecturers are the ones using it ,Two flat screen TV were bought and are placed safe at the students residents ,there were also additional Wi-Fi routers installed in students residence. The outcry of attachment fees was also facilitated by the SRC and the issue was brought before the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education ,Science and Technology Development Prof Murwira although the policy has not be fully implemented.

Entertainment wise ,they did what they had to do to make life of a normal UBA and USA enjoyable by bringing Stunner ,Seh Calahs , the Gafa of our time also known as Winky D and managed to host a successful Miss Nust 2018 event.

However, some may not agree with me that all of the promises that the SRC made were fulfilled. Is it they couldn’t fulfil because they were not intending on fulfilling at all or the Nust administration made it hard for them to do what they were supposed to do. In my own opinion which I am entitled to, I believe all of these facts should be put into consideration and I will give an example.

When we opened our second semester end of January 2018, the lecturers went on strike which stretched to three weeks and the SRC took ages to organise a demonstration. Why they did that? There is no reasonable explanation

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What’s stopping Zimbabwe’s young people from participating in elections?

Doctoral Candidate, Durban University of Technology
4 minute read

Zimbabwe will hold fresh elections at the end of this month, a sign that, following decades of rule under autocratic leader Robert Mugabe, the southern African nation is on the path towards democracy.

But are the country’s young people ready to get involved in politics?

The signs elsewhere on the continent aren’t hopeful. Given Africa’s youth bulge, in which 39.5% of the continent’s population is aged between 18 and 45, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the majority of voters would be young people. But this is not the case.

For the most part, young people are apathetic when it comes to elections. While they’re the most affected by democratic processes, they appear to be the least interested in them. For example in Nigeria’s 2011 polls, only 52.6% of young people voted while in South Africa’s 2014 national elections, apathy was the reason for a registration level of just 33% for 18 and 19 year olds.

This phenomenon isn’t unique to Africa. Across the world young voters are failing to turn up at the polls. Levels of youth participation are verylow in the UK and Ireland and most of the southern European states like Italy, Greece and Portugal.

In my recent study, I set out to explore the level of youth participation (as candidates, voters and activists) in Zimbabwe’s elections and governance processes, what restricts their participation and what can be done to support them. I defined youth as people aged between 15 and 35.

My evidence showed that their participation is low, hampered by restrictive political parties and a lack of three things – interest, information and funds.

To change this, there needs to be an effort to create political, structural and physical spaces that allow for their meaningful participation. This could, for example, include allocating quotas to young people and prioritising youth empowerment. South Africa’s two main opposition parties have done this well – young people lead the Democratic Allianceas well as the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Research findings

A third of the young people I interviewed said that they hadn’t taken part in activities such as rallies, council meetings and meetings within communities. A quarter of them said they didn’t participate often while only a fifth said they did so extremely often.

Political parties were cited as the main reason (67%) that prevented meaningful youth participation. For example, only 17% believed that political parties were creating spaces and making an effort to level the playing field so that they could participate in elections.

This exclusion is driven by what the scholar and expert on young people, Barry Checkoway, calls ‘adultism’ – when adults take a position that they are better than young people and prescribe solutions for them. Young people are seen as potentially dangerous elements that should be kept away from key decision-making processes.

On top of this, poverty makes young people particularly vulnerable to being excluded. About 70% of young people in Zimbabwe are unemployed. And those that work experience extreme poverty, earningless than US$2 per capita per day. This renders them susceptible to exploitation and control – young people who are poor are ready to sell their rights, for food hand-outs and promises of jobs that never materialise.

But it’s not just about the adults. Young people are also to blame for low participation.

In the interviews they showed a lack of interest in a system they felt they couldn’t change. They share this apathy with many other Zimbabweans. The legitimacy of the country’s elections since independence has always been a thorny issue. The opposition has regularly raised accusations of vote-buying, electoral fraud, vote rigging, as well as the intimidation of voters by the ruling party – Zanu-PF. This has led many to question the legitimacy of the electoral process.

Other barriers to young people include a lack of financial resources, lack of capacity, lack of information and the absence of a culture of positive engagement. Most believed that young people were prepared to run for office in the 2018 elections. But nearly half indicated that young people needed more support, such as leadership training, in preparation for running for office.

Increasing participation

When asked what the top five solutions to improving the participation of young people were the answers included:

  • freedom to participate in politics and development without restrictions (71%),
  • provision of leadership training (54%),
  • youth awareness campaigns (42%),
  • pro-youth policies (40%), and
  • effective engagement in productive activities (38%).

Young people should be viewed as a vital source  of information which justifies the need for adults to give them space and opportunities to engage meaningfully. This could be done through local campaigns, like the United Nations’ ‘Not Too Young to Run’ campaign. This promotes the right for young people to run for office, creates awareness and mobilises them.

Young people also need to be equipped to participate in politics. This includes getting support through leadership training and training in elections and governance processes. Finally, resources and support must be given to youth-led initiatives that are reaching out to young people.

Featured Image: https://www.theguardian.com/international. Article curated from http://theconversation.com

 

Opine: Why female candidates are perennially absent in elections.

Thulisile Mthethwa | Nust -ZW

How far have we gone with emancipation of women and girls today?

Too often we hear people saying that we are now civilised, we recognise and acknowledge the rights of women and children as a way to counter patriarchy and its bounding chains of inequality.

A university is at the centre of all this as it imparts basic principles of survival to young adults to cope in this socio-political and economically defined community.

Granted it is so and women are being given the voice to articulate their challenges and aspirations, why then have we not seen a female candidate successfully running for presidency at the National University of Science and Technology and bagging the top post of the students union body?

Does the answer lie between the socialisation of females or it is in the mind of a people?

Masculinity is constructed as binary opposed to femininity as early as childhood.

Women are often deemed to be in need of male guidance such as looking up to the man in their life,  be it a partner, parent or sibling, who is ‘a positive role model to all’.

That could be one way of understanding this problem although  the possibilities are just endless.

The day a woman could take up the NUST presidency would be the beginning of a journey of emotional and psychological liberation for those cramped in the dystopia of ‘Macho-manism’.

The day a woman would lead the NUST Students Representative Council would certainly be the day the notion that, ‘men make better political leaders than women,’ would be challenged.

‘…if you are too tough you are not feminine, if you are too feminine then you are not tough enough…

The political landscape at NUST shows that personal gender role threats are much more pronounced than they have been in the past. The double bind for female candidates is that women who contend for power are less likely than men to be seen as likeable.

Disharmony among women has not helped the situation either.

The most critical barriers that have hindered females from contending for the presidency at our prestigious university is that men are often judged by their potential, yet young women are judged by their accomplishments.

2017-2018 Academic year Students' Union presidential hopefuls.
 From Left to Right: Vusa Ngwenya, Natasha Aliki, Pablo Chimusoro.

Women have to spend more time proving themselves and can be easily written off as too feminine to withstand the political pressures that come with the demanding nature of leadership.

The idea that, ‘if you are too tough you are not feminine, if you are too feminine then you are not tough enough’ comes into play.

To win an election in this system, women must contend with sexism and stereotypes. The more a leadership position is perceived by the public as powerful, the harder it is for women to secure it.